NASA caught a 1.2 mile-high Martian dust devil on camera and scientists say it’s way bigger than whirlwinds on Earth

The dust devil appears as a white-ish moving column in the distance.


NASA’s Perseverance rover captured a 1.2-mile-high dust devil on Mars on camera.
The whirlwind was about 200 feet wide and moving at about 12 mph, the space agency said.
Scientists say dust devils on Mars are much stronger than those on Earth. 

NASA’s Perseverance rover caught a 1.2-mile-high Martian dust devil on camera that scientists say is way bigger than whirlwinds on Earth.

The space agency released a short video showing the bottom portion of the dust devil rollicking along the western rim of Mars’ Jezero Crater, NASA wrote in a press release

While the video — composed of 21 images sped up 20 times — only shows the lower 387 feet of the whirlwind, scientists were able to estimate that it stretched 1.2 miles high, according to NASA. That’s nearly 3.5 times the height of New York City’s One World Trade Center skyscraper.

“We don’t see the top of the dust devil, but the shadow it throws gives us a good indication of its height,” Mark Lemmon, a member of the Perseverance science team, said in the press release. “Most are vertical columns. If this dust devil were configured that way, its shadow would indicate it is about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) in height.”

The Martian whirlwind, which was captured from about 2.5 miles away, was also about 200 feet wide and moving at about 12 mph, the agency reported. 

Dust devils on Mars are much stronger than Earth’s

NASA said that Martian dust devils, while not as intense as Earth’s tornadoes, are much stronger and larger than dust devils on Earth. 

According to the National Weather Service, dust devils on Earth can get up to 1,000 feet tall on average, which is just about one-sixth of the height of this one on Mars.

Dust devils are most common during Mars’ spring and summer months, and though this isn’t the first time NASA has caught one on camera, scientists can’t predict when and where they’ll appear, NASA said.

A previous one recorded in 2012 extended a whopping 12 miles high, according to a video from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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