NASA’s Curiosity rover has recently been exploring near Gale Crater on Mars,media CNET reported. The Curiosity team has been taking pictures of the Martian landscape, focusing on wind activity. Their efforts paid off, capturing an impressive “dust demon” vortex.
The “dust demon” vortex captured on Mars can be tricky and require a lot of image processing. “But this dust demon is very impressive,– look closely! — Even in the original image, you can see it moving to the right, at the boundary between dark and bright slopes,” atmospheric scientist Claire Newman, a member of Aeolis Research’s Curiosity team, wrote in an update last week.
Curiosity needs to take multiple images over a period of time to capture the “dust demon” vortex. Researchers are studying the formation, size, direction and duration of the vortex.
Curiosity is doing its part to give scientists a fuller understanding of the winds and dust that could affect the red planet. “The dust measurements will help us track regional dust activity on Mars, which was seen from the surface and orbit during the recent Mars day,” Newman said.
Mars is known for impressive sandstorms, including a massive storm in 2018 that destroyed NASA’s Opportunity rover. Unlike Opportunity, Curiosity doesn’t rely on solar panels to sustain life.