Dust-Devil Tracks in Southern Schiaparelli Basin
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Dust-Devil Tracks in Southern Schiaparelli Basin
PSP_006477_1745  Science Theme: Rocks and Regolith
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Dust-devils are vortices of wind that form when air rising from a warm surface encounters shear in the above atmosphere. Martian dust devils can attain gargantuan proportions, reaching the size of terrestrial tornadoes with plumes that tower up to 9 kilometers above the surface. Dust-devils play an important role in sustaining the aerosols that make up Mars’ red sky and in cleaning the Martian surface after a dust storm.

This observation shows a region near the Martian equator that is a perfect tablet for the scribblings of dust-devils. This region is made up of dark bedrock that is thinly blanketed by bright dust. Dark tracks form when dust-devils scour the surface, exposing the darker substrate. The tracks tend to cluster together, as dust-devils repeatedly form over terrain that has been previously scoured and is consequently darker and warmer than the surrounding surface.

Once lofted by a dust-devil, the fine dust can be transported great distances before it settles again onto the surface.Written by: Paul Geissler  (16 January 2008)
 
Acquisition date
14 December 2007

Local Mars time
14:25

Latitude (centered)
-5.248°

Longitude (East)
17.657°

Spacecraft altitude
264.7 km (164.5 miles)

Original image scale range
26.5 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~79 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection
Equirectangular

Emission angle
0.0°

Phase angle
36.8°

Solar incidence angle
37°, with the Sun about 53° above the horizon

Solar longitude
2.2°, Northern Spring

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  14.0°
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POSTSCRIPT
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.