Waiting for Dust Devils
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Waiting for Dust Devils
ESP_036376_2160  Science Theme: Aeolian Processes
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HiRISE has captured some stunning images of dust devils in action, but the overall sample remains fairly limited. Both Mars Orbiter Camera and HiRISE images in this general region have a fairly high rate of capturing dust devils (sometimes several in one image), so acquiring images here in the right season has a good chance to help us obtain better measurements of these features.

This image has been fairly successful, showing one well-defined, large dust devil in the north and two less well formed ones in the center. Dust devils are identified in images both by their cloudy form and the shadow their cloud casts on the surface, from which the height of the dust devil can be determined.

Dust devils on Mars form the same way they do in deserts on Earth: strong heating of the surface by the sun, rising of heated, less-dense air that swirls upwards in a column, some wind to move it along a path over the ground, and entrainment, or picking up, of surface particles such as dust.

Preliminary results have shown that the along-ground movement and the circulating winds of a dust devil can be estimated using the HiRISE color frames if the dust devils happen to be imaged in the HiRISE color swath (down the center of the image).

Written by: HIRISE Science Team   (18 June 2014)

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Acquisition date:30 April 2014 Local Mars time:15:20
Latitude (centered):35.446° Longitude (East):201.999°
Range to target site:297.2 km (185.8 miles)Original image scale range:59.5 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~178 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:50 cm/pixel and North is upMap projection:Equirectangular
Emission angle:5.7° Phase angle:51.7°
Solar incidence angle:46°, with the Sun about 44° above the horizon Solar longitude:124.0°, Northern Summer

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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.