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NASA Captures Tornado on Mars: PHOTO


The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured a tornado on the surface of Mars:

The length of the shadow indicates that the dust plume reaches more than 800 meters, or half a mile, in height. The tail of the plume does not trace the path of the dust devil, which had been following a steady course towards the southeast and left a bright track behind it.

The delicate arc in the plume was produced by a westerly breeze at about a 250-meter height that blew the top of the plume towards the east. The westerly winds and the draw of warmth to the south combine to guide dust devils along southeast trending paths, as indicated by the tracks of many previous dust-devils. The dust plume itself is about 30 meters in diameter.

(via mwvastronomy)

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  1. Toto, I don't think we're on Mars anymore.

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Mar 8, 2012 9:43:58 AM

  2. It looks like a sperm.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Mar 8, 2012 11:32:00 AM

  3. @ Gregoire You're right. What will the solar system do if Mars gets pregnant?

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Mar 8, 2012 2:47:34 PM

  4. This isn't a tornado - it's a dust devil. Tornadoes begin in thunderstorm clouds and reach the ground. Dust devils begin at ground level, reach upward as they expand and strengthen, and occur generally in clear sunny conditions (or we wouldn't have been able to observe this one). They're similar-looking, but different, phenomena.

    To my understanding, Mars doesn't have thunderstorms. Please correct the post to reflect the phenomenon pictured!

    Posted by: Zandt | Mar 9, 2012 9:35:19 AM

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