While treading the barren Martian surface for about ten years, NASA’s Curiosity rover has been to a lot of places and has offered glimpses of its journey every now and then. From sending a postcard from Mars to discovering a flower-shaped rock, the rover has never failed to amaze thanks to its impeccable cameras. Most recently, the Mars rover has beamed back some new visuals featuring a dusty gust that it spotted on the red planet.
Did it get dark in here? Oh, that’s just the dust cloud I caught with my Hazcam. While this isn’t the first dusty gust I’ve captured, its size and proximity made for a dense shadow.
[📷 from sol 3418] pic.twitter.com/CgnWIhqqSQ
“Did it get dark in here? Oh, that’s just the dust cloud I caught with my Hazcam. While this isn’t the first dusty gust I’ve captured, its size and proximity made for a dense shadow,” the Twitter-savvy rover wrote in its post. In the footage above, you can see the Martian weather which was captured by Curiosity’s Hazard-Avoidance Cameras, or Hazcams. The Hazcams captured a series of images, which is viewable in the upper part of the visual. The bottom part, however, shows the frames after they’ve been processed by change-detection software. The rover’s mission team says that this helps the viewer see how the wind gust moves over time.
According to the rover’s mission team, this visual was captured on March 18, which was Curiosity’s 3,418th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. “Scientists believe it’s a wind gust rather than a dust devil since it doesn’t appear to have the trademark vorticity, or twisting, of a dust devil”, the team wrote in a catalogue.
The red planet is infamous for its violent winds which sometimes create a storm big enough to be spotted using telescopes from Earth, says NASA. Michael Smith, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center says, “Every year there are some moderately big dust storms that pop up on Mars and they cover continent-sized areas and last for weeks at a time”. He further revealed that the red planet experiences a normal storm growing into planet-encircling dust storms once every three Mars years, which is about five-and-a-half years on Earth.