Dust Devil East of Hellas Planitia
Dust Devil East of Hellas Planitia
PSP_004285_1375  Science Theme: Glacial/Periglacial Processes
This HiRISE image is of a region east of the Hellas impact basin and south of Reull Vallis. Unexpectedly, HiRISE caught a dust devil blowing across the Martian surface in the southwest portion of the image.

Dust devils form when the temperature of the atmosphere near the ground is much warmer than that above. The hot air rises, and under ideal conditions, forms a vortex that sucks in more warm air. If the vortex is strong enough, it will raise dust off the surface, forming a dust devil.

Dust devils generally form in the afternoon because the sunlight needs sufficient time to warm the surface. When this image was taken, the local time was about 3:08 p.m. In addition to the main image, we show here a small version of the HiRISE image with an arrow showing the location of the dust devil. The third subimage shows the dust devil close up.

The bright material is the dust within the vortex, and a dark shadow cast by the dust devil is visible to the right. The diameter of this dust devil is about 200 meters, but at the surface it is probably much smaller. Based on the length of the shadow in this image, the dust devil is on the order of 500 meters tall.

Written by: Nathan Bridges  (18 July 2007)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_012328_1375.
Acquisition date
26 June 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
252.4 km (156.8 miles)

Original image scale range
25.3 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~76 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
42°, with the Sun about 48° above the horizon

Solar longitude
264.9°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  14.2°
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:

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. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.