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Mars rover Curiosity encounters dust devils

NASA scientists has announced the presence of dust devils in Gale crater on Mars.

Rover Curiosity has been lodged in Gale Crater since August testing the Martian soil and atmosphere. Although no images were captured, The Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) instrument, recorded five characteristics typical of a whirlwind.

Those characteristics can include a brief dip in air pressure, a change in wind direction, a change in wind speed, a rise in air temperature or a dip in ultraviolet light reaching the rover.

Dust devil forms in clear weather when the temperature of the air above the ground rises due to the sun’s heat. The hot air rises through the cooler air picking up dirt, as it moves up. Images of this phenomenon have been captured by previous rovers and tracks and shadows have been seen from orbit.

“Dust in the atmosphere has a major role in shaping the climate on Mars,” said Manuel de la Torre Juarez of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “The dust lifted by dust devils and dust storms warms the atmosphere.”

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