Mars has huge dust devils

Posted on Sunday, July 17 2005 @ 6:44 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Martian summers may be nice with day temperatures of 20°C (68°F), opposed to nighttime lows of -90°C (-130°F), but during these warm daytime temperature new hazards arise. Meet the dust devils.
No, what hit you yesterday was a monster column towering kilometers high and hundreds of meters wide, 10 times larger than any tornado on Earth. Red-brown sand and dust whipping around faster than 30 meters per second (70 miles per hour) dropped visibility to zero, scouring your faceplate, driving dust into every fold and wrinkle of your spacesuit. For 15 minutes you huddled and endured the buffeting. The scariest part was the incessant crackling and flashing of miniature lightning bolts nipping at you and your rover, and the loud static on your radio that prevented you from calling for help.
Scientists have spotted dust devils on Mars with some of them as large as 1-2km across at their base and clearly towering 8 to 10km high! And maybe they are electrically charged, like terrestrial dust devils. Read more about the dust devils at NASA. A short black&white movie of a Martian dust devil can be seen here.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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