The Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, continues to observe the Red Planet with its robotic eyes. There are many discoveries made, even just looking at the arid world, like that recently carried out by a “sand devil”, a meteorological phenomenon typical of desert and dry territories.
Curiosity has photographed the small miniature whirlwind on 9 August, capturing a distinctive dance of sand and dust along the border between the dark and light slopes within the 154-kilometer-wide Gale Crater of the Red Planet. It is hardly surprising that these dry eddies, which we can also find here on Earth, are popping up inside the crater these days.
“It’s almost summer at Gale Crater, which puts us in a period of severe surface warming that lasts from early spring to mid-summer“Claire Newman writes in an update of the mission.”Stronger surface heating tends to produce stronger convection and convective eddies, which consist of fast winds whipping around low-pressure cores“, continues the scientist.”If those eddies are strong enough, they can lift dust off the surface and become sand devils“.
These phenomena are generally very faint, but the August 9 vortex also manifested itself in the raw, unprocessed rover images. The robotic probe has already identified these phenomena on Mars, as well as Opportunity and Spirit. In the future we will observe even more of them … perhaps also other phenomena not yet known. To keep company with the robot, in fact, very soon the new spacecraft from NASA and China.