Mars Rover Perseverance Captures Footage of Dust Devil in Action
The Mars rover Perseverance has captured footage of a dust devil in action on the surface of Mars. The footage was taken by one of Perseverance’s black-and-white navigation cameras, called Navcams, and shows a dust devil moving across a region known as the Thorofare Ridge at a speed of around 12 mph.
Dust devils are common on Mars due to the planet’s thin atmosphere, which is only 1% the density of Earth’s atmosphere. When the surface of Mars heats up, but the surrounding atmosphere remains cool, air begins to rise, causing rotation and the formation of dust devils. Similar processes occur on Earth, but on Mars, these dust devils can grow large, and dust storms can even cover the entire planet.
The dust devil spotted by Perseverance was estimated to be around 200 feet wide and located about 2.5 miles away. Although only the bottom of the dust devil is visible in the footage, scientists were able to estimate its height by observing the shadow it cast. If configured as a vertical column, the dust devil would be approximately 1.2 miles in height.
Dust devils on Mars are seasonal and appear more frequently during the summer months in the planet’s northern hemisphere, where Perseverance is currently situated. However, specific occurrences are unpredictable, making the Rover’s black-and-white cameras invaluable for monitoring the surrounding area in the hope of capturing more events like this.