NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Dust devils are spinning, columnar vortices of air that move across a landscape, picking up dust as they go. They are common occurrences during summer on Mars. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image, acquired during northern summer, shows a dust devil in the Phlegra region of Mars near 32.0°N, 182.1°W. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the lower left; the dust devil is casting a columnar shadow toward the upper right. Some dust devils on Mars make streaks as they disrupt the fine coating of dust on the surface--but others do not make streaks. This one did not make a streak. The view shown here is 3 km (1.9 mi) wide.
Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, California. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, California and Denver, Colorado.