This monster's more than a mile tall!
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has spotted a super-tall dust devil on the Red Planet — and there's footage, y'all.
In a press release about the find, NASA and CalTech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, from whence Perseverance was born, said that the small whirlwind was captured by the rover's cameras at the end of August from a few miles away. Per the agency's calculations, this whirlwind was likely traveling at about 12 miles per hour and stood a whopping 1.2 miles high.
Everything about NASA's descriptions of the specs of the dust devil, from its location in Mars' Jezero Crater along its Thorofare Ridge to the agency's reminder that whirlwinds on the Red Planet can grow significantly larger than those on Earth, seems more like something out of the "Star Wars" universe than something that occurred on the planet over from ours.
A Martian whirlwind spotted by NASA's Perseverance Rover pic.twitter.com/gptBtnBjoo
— Futurism (@futurism) October 1, 2023
Though it was shot from about two-and-a-half miles away, a member of Perseverance's terran team described how the team at NASA was able to figure out the height of the whirlwind.
"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 planetary scientist at Boulder, Colorado's Space Science Institute and Perseverance team member 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 in height."
Though dust devils on Earth are much smaller than tornadoes, ranging an average of 500 to 1,000 feet as compared to the five or ten-mile-high cyclones that can decimate whole cities, that's clearly not the case on Mars — and this footage, like most everything else captured by NASA's Mars rovers, gives us another look into just how wild the Red Planet can be.
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