Scientists recently were amazed at the photos of the dust devils from Mars shown below. The photos were captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that has been sending photos of Mars to astronomers here on Earth. The dust devil shown in the photo was 100 feet wide. The dust devils will be a major problem if astronauts are to visit Mars. The dust devils can be up to 10 times larger than earth tornados and rotate at 70 miles an hour. When they occur on Mars, visibility quickly drops to zero.
Scientists feel that if astronauts are caught in one of the dust devils the dust will be electrically charged causing lightning bolts to form off the space suits and all equipment. The electrically charged dust will also interfere with radios. The dust will continue to cling to everything even after the dust devil is over.
Mars experiences most of its dust storms near the polar caps. In the spring, corresponding roughly with spring in the Northern Hemisphere, the dust storms occur mostly along the northern polar cap of Mars. Winds are especially prevalent when Mars is the greatest distance away from the Sun.
Scientists are thrilled at the images that have been coming from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The information from the Reconnaissance Orbiter is the best evidence astronomers have so far of what conditions on Mars is like. The current cameras can reveal objects as small as a desk.
Image/Video Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems