Exploring the Planets

Dust Devils

Martian winds are very active on a local scale as well. Swirling columns of wind and dust known as dust devils occur frequently, and their tracks crisscross large areas. Martian dust devils are most active in mid-summer. The largest ones can reach heights of 8 kilometers (5 miles) — much taller than dust devils on Earth.

Dust Devil Diagram

Diagram courtesy of Malin Space Science Systems

Many dust devils form each afternoon throughout the spring and summer in northwestern Amazonis Planitia.

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems image

Dust Devils, Mars

Intricate patterns of dark streaks trace the paths of dust devils on the northern plains of Mars. Many of these tracks are more than 30 meters (98 feet) wide and extend more than 4 kilometers (2.5 miles)

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, HiRISE
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona image

Dust Devils on Mars

Although dust devils are often observed in flat desert plains, these energetic wind eddies can also cross hills, ridges, valleys, and craters.

Mars Odyssey, THEMIS
NASA/JPL/Arizona State University image

Dust Devils, Mars