Sunday, May 18, 2008

UA finds dust devils on Mars

The UA HiRISE camera has identified dust devils on Mars reaching up to 9 kilometers above the surface.

[right: dust-devil tracks in southern Schiaparelli Basin, Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona]

According to the HiRISE announcement, "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.

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