Mars has excellent ingredients for dust devils.
While taking images of its new surroundings on the arid Martian surface, the Perseverance rover recently spotted a whirl of dust spinning by in the distance. Seen below, the dust devil appears beyond the rover’s arm:
Mars is an exceptionally dry, windswept desert planet today, so it’s ideal grounds for short-lived dust devils to form. Sometimes, long-lived great duststorms sweep the planet, too, shrouding vast swathes of Mars in reddish Martian dust.
Yet Mars wasn’t always a bone-dry, dusty world. Planetary scientists at NASA think Mars once supported bounties of water — and perhaps life therein. As the space agency noted:
NASA scientists estimate that Mars used to have at least 5 million cubic miles of water. That’s more than the volume of water found within Earth’s Arctic Ocean. If that much water were present on Mars today, it would cover 19 percent of the surface and reach a maximum depth of a mile.
The Perseverance rover, seeking evidence that microbial life could have once survived (or thrived?) on Mars, has started exploring the Jezero Crater, a place NASA says was likely once “flooded with water.”