Tracking dust devils

Mars_dust_devil_tracksDust devils can be the bane of the wildland firefighter, sometimes throwing burning embers across the fireline or even turning into a little fire tornado if it involves flames from burning vegetation.

But as far as I know, the dust devils on Mars don’t cause any problems for firefighters.

NASA describes the photo above this way:

Who’s been marking up Mars? This portion of a recent high-resolution picture from the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows twisting dark trails criss-crossing light colored terrain on the martian surface. Newly formed trails like these had presented researchers with a tantalizing martian mystery but are now known to be the work of miniature wind vortices known to occur on the red planet – martian dust devils. Such spinning columns of rising air heated by the warm surface are also common in dry and desert areas onplanet Earth. Typically lasting only a few minutes, dust devils becoming visible as they pick up loose red-colored dust leaving the darker and heavier sand beneath intact. On Marsdust devilscan be up to 8 kilometers high. Dust devils have been credited with unexpected cleanings of mars rover solar panels.

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