Exploring the Planets

World of Wind and Dust

Exposed to the ravages of wind for eons, the barren surface of Mars has been shaped and sculpted into terrains of grandeur and beauty. Strong and relentless, the Martian winds are still changing the landforms of Mars today.

Many factors influence how Martian winds develop, including seasonal temperature variations, global atmospheric circulation patterns, and topography. Because the atmosphere is so thin, high wind velocities are needed to move sand and dust. Surface winds typically move about 16 to 32 kilometers (10 to 20 miles) per hour. The Viking Landers measured speeds of up to 113 kilometers (70 miles) per hour during dust storms.


Mars Dust Devil

A towering dust devil casts a serpentine shadow over the Martian surface in this image acquired by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.