Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Swirls in the dust mark out lines in the sand where dust devils play along the ridges in the high latitudes of Mars in this image from NASA’s HiRISE camera.
Explore the hills, gullies and dune fields within this image. What shapes and stories does your imagination create? Share your stories below.
Wind, sand and dust play a huge role in shaping the surface of Mars. The dark swirls dominating this landscape show the paths of dust devils. Dust devils occur on Earth too. These strong, well-formed whirlwinds are like mini-tornadoes. They are vertically rotating columns of air formed when warm air at the surface punches through cooler air above. The column of air may begin to rotate. When it does, more warm air is sucked in from the surrounding area giving it more power. The surrounding cooler air contains the spinning column of warm. On Mars, spinning dust devils pick up the fine dust leaving darker sand behind showing the swirling paths. Sand and dust also fill in craters and other shallow areas throughout this image.