Record-Breaking Dust Devil Caught in the Act
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Record-Breaking Dust Devil Caught in the Act
ESP_016306_2410  Science Theme: Glacial/Periglacial Processes
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Sometimes HiRISE finds something unexpected.

This image was targeted to study knobs in Mars' northern plains, just north of Scandia Crater. The knobs are clearly imaged, but what surprised scientists was a dust devil visible in the south-central part of the image.

As on Earth, dust devils form when ground heated by sunlight warms the air above it. The hot air rises, forming an updraft accompanied by vortical motions. Because warm ground is a requirement, dust devils on Mars generally form in late spring to summer, especially at high latitudes.

This image was taken in early spring (2010), at a latitude of 61 degrees North. No dust devil has been seen this far from the equator at such an early season before.
Written by: Nathan Bridges   (17 March 2010)



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Acquisition date:18 January 2010 Local Mars time: 2:32 PM
Latitude (centered):60.839° Longitude (East):212.341°
Range to target site:310.5 km (194.1 miles)Original image scale range:31.1 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~93 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:25 cm/pixel and North is upMap projection:Equirectangular
Emission angle:0.3° Phase angle:53.0°
Solar incidence angle:53°, with the Sun about 37° above the horizon Solar longitude:39.4°, Northern Spring
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North azimuth:97° Sub-solar azimuth:324.3°
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North azimuth:270°Sub solar azimuth:138.9°

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For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona. The image data were processed using the U.S. Geological Survey’s ISIS3 software.