Today’s Forecast For Mars: Windy With A Chance For Dust Devils

By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – It’s summer on Mars and it’s probably a bit on the windy side, at least during the afternoon.

We know this thanks to the rover Curiosity, which recently captured images that show winds stirring up dust devils inside the Red Planet’s Gale Crater.

This image shows a dust-carrying whirlwind, called a dust devil, scooting across the ground inside Gale Crater. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/TAMU)

This image shows a dust-carrying whirlwind, called a dust devil, scooting across the ground inside Gale Crater. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/TAMU)

On Feb. 1, several pictures were taken in pairs about 12 seconds apart, with about 90 seconds in between each pair. NASA has put these images into a video with the speed and contrast modified to make frame-to-frame changes easier to see.

The pictures support a theory that wind is shaping the landscape on Mars.

A dust devil scoots across the ground inside Gale Crater on Feb 1, 2017. . (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/TAMU)

A dust devil scoots across the ground inside Gale Crater on Feb 1, 2017. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/TAMU)

Just like on Earth, dust devils on Mars are the result of sunshine heating the surface and causing pockets of warmer air to rise. This process, called convection, creates a horizontal rolling motion above the ground.

Updrafts then tilt the rolling motion vertically, creating a whirlwind that picks up dust, also known as a dust devil.

Dust devils are different than tornadoes because they develop from the ground up on clear, sunny days.

Read more about winds on Mars by clicking here.

Meteorologist Chris Spears writes about stories related to weather and climate in Colorado. Check out his bio, connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS Denver

CENTURYLINK 'LINK TO THE ACMAS'
CHECK YOUR BRACKET
Webcams

Listen Live

AM/FM Stations

Featured Shows & Multimedia