Photo credit: NASA/JPL/UArizona
NASA’s HiRISE camera has photographed an active dust devil on Mars. This phenomenon occurs when rotating columns of dust form around low-pressure air pockets, and are common on both Earth as well as Mars. This particular Martian dust devil formed on the dust-covered, volcanic plains of Amazonis Planitia, and its core is roughly 50 meters across. The dark streak you see on the ground behind is its shadow, suggesting the plume of rotating dust rises about 650 meters into the atmosphere. Read more to see what the Curiosity rover saw.
HiRise (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) is basically a camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. At 143-pounds, the US$40 million instrument was built under the direction of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp, consisting of a 19.7 in aperture reflecting telescope, the largest so far of any deep space mission, which allows it to take pictures of Mars with resolutions of 0.3 m/pixel, resolving objects below a meter across.