We may be a long way off from putting a man on Mars but as technology continues to improve we’re beginning to get a pretty good look at its surface anyway. Using high-resolution cameras recent photos taken of the surface captured something pretty stunning: A 12-mile high dust devil swirling and ripping across the planet’s surface.
Take a look…
That image was captured by the High-res Imaging Science Experiment at the University of Arizona. By measuring the dust devil’s shadow, as captured in other photos, scientists are able to determine its exact, and massive size.
Dust devils are of course pretty common on Earth, particularly in the desert. We just never see them this big. Even tornadoes, which are far more violent and severe than dust-devils, typically only measure 10 miles high. Earthly dust devils are never more than a few hundred yards in height. Now just imagine what a Martian tornado might look like, if Mars had enough water to support them.
The good news for future human astronauts is that even at this size, this dust devil probably wouldn’t be very dangerous. Remember, the density of Mars’ atmosphere is pretty low. Without much air there to move around even a dust devil this big probably wouldn’t pack enough of a punch to knock you over.