Movie Clip Shows Whirlwinds Carrying Dust on Mars
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is taking movies of dust
devils -- whirlwinds carrying dust -- scooting across a plain
Clips consisting of a few frames of two different dust devils
are available online at
. These were taken on
April 15 and April 18, and capture more movement as seen from
the surface than any previous imaging of martian dust devils.
Spirit's view of a dust devil. Image credit: NASA/JPL
+ Dust devil movie - Sol 456 (Apr. 15, 2005): Enhanced animation / caption | Plain animation / caption
Dust devil movie - Sol 459 (Apr. 18, 2005): Enhanced animation / caption | Plain animation / caption
"This is the best look we've ever gotten of the wind effects
on the martian surface as they are happening," said Dr. Mark
Lemmon, a rover team member and atmospheric scientist at
Texas A&M University, College Station.
Spirit, operated from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif., has been using its navigation camera to
routinely check for dust devils. It began seeing dust devils
last month in individual frames from the camera. Lemmon said,
"We're hoping to learn about how dust is kicked up into the
atmosphere and how the wind is interacting with the surface.
It's exciting that we now have a systematic way of capturing
dust devils in movies rather than isolated still images."
Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, successfully completed
three-month primary missions in April, 2004, and have been
exploring at increasing distances from their landing sites
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in
Pasadena, manages NASA's Mars Exploration Rover project for
NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
Guy Webster (818) 354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Dolores Beasley (202) 358-1753
NASA Headquarters, Washington