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When Spirit Spotted a Swarm of Devils

13 Jul 2020, 20:35 UTC
When Spirit Spotted a Swarm of Devils
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Dust devils in Gusev Crater captured on camera by Spirit on July 13, 2005. (Credit: NASA/JPL/Texas A&M. Color edit by Jason Major)
Mars may be pretty low on traffic these days but, on this day back in 2005, NASA’s Spirit rover (the twin to Opportunity) seemed to find itself at a busy intersection as several blustery dust devils zipped past, one after the other!
The animation above is an edited version of one released by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory around the time the scene was captured. It’s been contrast-adjusted to bring out the detail in the dust devils against the dark surface material of the landscape within Gusev Crater, where Spirit (MER-A) explored from 2004 to 2010. A Mars-like color tint has also been added. (See the original version here.)
This particular dust devil swarm was observed on July 13, 2005, which was mission sol 568 for Spirit. The actual time elapsed across the individual frames above was about 12 minutes.
Dust devils on Mars are common, especially during local spring. Just like on Earth they’re caused by heated air just above the surface rising rapidly upwards in spinning columns, picking up dust and sand and propelled forward by prevailing ...

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