Oha! Mars Tornado Recorded on Video

The NASA Perseverance rover noticed a high dust vortex, in search of traces of former life on Mars. It was shooting from a distance of about 4 kilometers. So it was possible to fix only the lower part of it.

By the way, such tornadoes occur here quite often. But this one was especially large: it reached two kilometers in height, and 61 meters in diameter (the dimensions were determined by the shadow cast). And he was moving at a speed of 19 kilometers per hour.

Read more in this article.

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What happened?

NASA has published an animation made by the Perseverance rover. Why is it interesting? You can see a very impressive dust vortex on it.

Tornado on video

The tornado was 60 meters in diameter, and it moved at a speed of 19 km/h. You don’t have to worry about the rover that filmed this phenomenon — the shooting was conducted from a distance of four kilometers.

Dust swirls occur regularly on Mars, but this size is very rare. NASA called the tornado a “dust devil.”

Martian dust vortices are formed by the same mechanism as their terrestrial “brethren.” They arise in a situation of a strong temperature drop when the cells of warm air rising from the heated surface are mixed with the descending colder air masses.

The main difference between Martian and terrestrial dust vortices is their size and strength. Due to the lower gravity, tornadoes of the Red Planet may be larger than terrestrial ones. At the same time, since the Martian atmosphere is orders of magnitude thinner than the Earth’s, local tornadoes are much weaker than terrestrial ones and do not pose a threat to terrestrial technology. Rather, on the contrary, sometimes they can act as her “savior.” So, at one time, dust vortices cleaned the solar panels of the Opportunity rover from dust several times, allowing it to work much longer than forecast.

As a rule, Martian vortices are most noticeable in the spring and summer months, but in general, scientists cannot predict in advance exactly where and when they may appear. Therefore, the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers regularly monitor such events, taking black-and-white images to reduce the amount of data sent to Earth.

Why do we need such research?

Mars tornado

The study of such tornadoes is necessary to understand the processes taking place in the Martian atmosphere. But the main goal of the Perseverance rover was not the “dust devil,” but the place from where the shooting was conducted. The rover explores the crater Lake, on the site of which there was a river mouth three billion years ago. The key goal of Perseverance on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life.

What is the rover doing now?

Now the Perseverance rover is exploring the Lake Crater (Jezero). About 3 billion years ago, the mouth of a river flowing into the lake was bubbling in its place. Now it is a completely desolate world — the drought here is 1,000 times stronger than in the Sahara on Earth. But even in such conditions, evidence of the former life could be preserved, scientists are sure.


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