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Probe Captures Dramatic Shot of Martian Dust Devil

  • VOA News

A dust devil is seen swirling across the Martian surface in this photo snapped by the Mars Opportunity rover.

A dust devil is seen swirling across the Martian surface in this photo snapped by the Mars Opportunity rover.

NASA’s Opportunity rover has spotted a very Earth-like phenomenon on Mars.

The space agency posted a photo of a Martian dust devil twisting its way across the Meridiani Planum, where the rover has been for more than 4,000 Martian days. Opportunity touched down on Mars in 2004.

Opportunity's deputy principal investigator Ray Arvidson told the website Mashable, "This is one of the best dust devils that we have seen in Meridiani Planum. We are lucky to have captured this one in an image!"

As on Earth, Martian dust devils are created when a part of the surface of the planet heats up faster than adjacent areas.

This is not the first time a dust devil has been spotted on Mars. In 2012, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter observed one that was more than 19 kilometers tall. The Spirit rover also spotted Martian dust devils.

NASA reports that Opportunity is still working fine and recently attempted to climb the "steepest slope ever tackled by any Mars rover," but its wheels kept slipping, preventing it from making it to the top.

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