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.