Wind vs. Dust Devil Streaks
February 22, 2004
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image presents a fine illustration of the difference between streaks made by dust devils and streaks made by wind gusts. Dust devils are usually solitary, spinning vortices. They resemble a tornado, or the swirling motion of a familiar, Tasmanian cartoon character. Wind gusts, on the other hand, can cover a larger area and affect more terrain at the same time. The dark, straight, and parallel features resembling scrape marks near the right/center of this image are thought to have been formed by a singular gust of wind, whereas the more haphazard dark streaks that crisscross the scene were formed by dozens of individual dust devils, acting at different times. This southern summer image is located in Noachis Terra near 67.0°S, 316.2°W. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper left; the picture covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) wide.
Topics: Astronomy, Planetary science, Spacecraft, Environment, Nicholson, Diacria quadrangle, Dust devil, Storm, Vortices, Mars, wind