NASA’s Perseverance rover has offered a precise glimpse of a meteorological phenomenon typically witnessed in desert regions on Earth.
In February 2021, the Perseverance landed on the Jezero’s floor on a mission to look for indications of past life on Mars and gather and cache dozens of samples for future return to Earth. The Jezero is 28 miles (45 kilometers) wide.
On August 30, 2023, the car-sized Perseverance recorded a dust devil on the western rim of Mars’ Jezero Crater.
The mission team members estimated that the small twister was located around four kilometers (2.5 miles) from Perseverance and was traveling east at a pace of roughly twelve miles per hour (nineteen kilometers per hour). Although the object’s height is not visible, its width was calculated at around 200 feet.
Mark Lemmon, a planetary scientist from the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and a member of the Perseverance science team explained in a statement that the dust devil’s shadow provides a decent approximation of the devil’s height even though the top of the devil is hidden from view.
The dust devil was taken in 21 photos by one of Perseverance’s navigation cameras. The new film was created by splicing together the photographs from the mission and then speeding it up by a factor of 20.
According to Lemmon, most columns are vertical. Its shadow would suggest that the dust devil is around 1.2 miles (2 km) high if it were shaped this way.
The mission team members say that because Jezero was formerly home to a vast lake and a river delta, it is the perfect place to carry out such operations.
The Mars rover Perseverance has spotted many dust devils. The rover made history in September 2021 by recording audio of one of these tornadoes on Mars.
According to NASA officials, perseverance’s dust devil observations are aiding scientists in acquiring a more profound knowledge of Mars’ atmosphere and enhancing their Red Planet weather models.