Worldsfeed News Desk: On August 30, 2023, NASA’s Perseverance rover, currently exploring Mars, caught sight of a swirling dust devil in Mars’ Jezero Crater. This fascinating event was captured by the rover’s Navcams and offers valuable information about the Martian weather.
Dust devils, though smaller and less powerful than tornadoes on Earth, are important for scientists studying Mars. They help distribute dust across the planet and improve our understanding of the Martian atmosphere. During this sighting, the dust devil was located at “Thorofare Ridge,” about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) away from the rover. It traveled from east to west at a speed of approximately 12 mph (19 kph) and measured about 200 feet (60 meters) in width. Although only the lower 387 feet (118 meters) were visible, scientists estimate it reached a towering height of around 1.2 miles (2 kilometers).
Dust devils form when warm air rises and combines with cooler descending air columns. Martian dust devils can be larger than those on Earth and appear unpredictably.
Both Perseverance and Curiosity rovers on Mars keep an eye out for dust devils, taking black-and-white images to save on data usage.
Perseverance’s primary mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. It also studies Mars’ geology and past climate, paving the way for future human exploration. The rover collects and stores Martian rock and soil samples for future missions to retrieve and analyze in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).
This mission is part of NASA’s broader strategy, aligning with the goal of human exploration of Mars, which includes lunar missions to prepare for eventual Mars exploration. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, manages the operations of the Perseverance rover.