Devilish dust…

While we wait for more images to come back from Oppy, I wanted to show you all something quite amazing that was all over the internet like a rash last week, but I decided to save it until I’d been able to work on it a little! šŸ™‚

So… Mars… very dusty place as you all know. You only need to take a look at Oppy’s dusty back to see that. Occasionally that dust is sucked up into the thin martian air by thermal currents, and then it forms mini twisters known as “dust devils”. Here’s a rather cool animation of dust devils caught whirling and twirling across Mars by Spirit, years ago… (if you can’t see the dust devils moving, click on the pic to start the animation playing)…

(Source: http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/mars_dust_devil.gif )

We’ve seen these dust devils from above, too. In fact, they’re the orbital Mars image equivalent of asteroid trails on night sky photos. Some images taken by MRO and Odyssey show more than one of the little beggars! But occasionally one wanders smack bang into the centre of an orbiter’s field of view, and we get a really good portrait of one. This happened recently, when the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter caught a dust devil wandering across the martian desert, its dusty plume caught and bent by the gentle martian wind. Here’s what it looked like on the raw black and white image, without much magnification – you’ll have to click on this image, and those after, to see them properly…

Zooming in on the dust devil reveals this…

Not that impressive just yet… but enhance it a bit, boost the contrast and sharpen it up a bit and you get… this…

That’s more like it…! But, well, black and white… bit boring… what would it look like in colour?

Like this…

And looking more closely..?

Mmmm, that’s better! Look at the way the dust plume is bending in the breeze… it would have been something special to see that from close by, wouldn’t it?

Of course, I couldn’t just leave it like that, I had to have a mess about with the image in true Road to Endeavour style, and here’s what I produced…

I think that’s quite beautiful, don’t you? šŸ™‚

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