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Dust devils buzz Curiosity rover on Mars

Posted on Friday, 16 November, 2012 | Comment icon 6 comments

Image credit: NASA

Data collected by the rover's meteorological instruments indicates significant dust devil activity.

Mars is well known for its dust storms, sometimes these can become large enough to encompass the entire planet for days. While it hasn't caught any on camera, Curiosity has recorded evidence that smaller vortices have been appearing nearby and that the rover itself may have been run over by one.

"A dust-devil looks essentially like what you would expect from the movies - a tiny tornado that is lifting dust," said NASA scientist Manuel de la Torre Juarez. "Understanding these phenomena is very important because the Martian climate is driven largely by its dust cycle."

"Curiosity has spent several weeks now parked at a sand dune dubbed "Rocknest", where it has been testing procedures for digging up soil samples and delivering them to the robot's big internal laboratories."

  View: Full article |  Source: BBC News

  Discuss: View comments (6)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by pallidin on 16 November, 2012, 14:29
The article doen't indicate how strong these dust devils are, but I sure hope that one doesn't damage Curiousity.
Comment icon #2 Posted by 27vet on 16 November, 2012, 18:22
Dust won't do the solar panels any good. They should have built in a way of cleaning the dust off them. I'm presuming they didn't.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Merc14 on 16 November, 2012, 18:57
That isn't a problem on Curiosity because it doesn't use solar panels, it uses a thermoelectric radioisotope generator thet utilizes the heat from decaying plutonium to charge a battery through thermocouples. This sysetm provides a steady amount of power regardless of environmental conditions and also warms vital instruments throughout the rover.
Comment icon #4 Posted by stevewinn on 17 November, 2012, 18:39
i remember reading that these dust devils are really weak, if you experienced one it would be like someone blowing on you. so not even a light breeze.
Comment icon #5 Posted by pallidin on 17 November, 2012, 23:44
OK. Good to know. Thanks.

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