Nasa’s Perseverance rover captures ‘dust devil’ on Mars in ultra-rare footage

NASA’S latest Mars rover has captured rare footage of a “dust devil” skittering across the planet’s surface.

The extra-terrestrial twister was picked up by one of Perseverance’s 19 onboard cameras in video shared by Nasa on social media this week.

“You can see it in the distance behind my robotic arm in this enhanced view,” the official Perseverance Twitter account wrote on March 16.

“The dust devil is moving right to left and creating whirlwinds of dust in its path.”

Perseverance touched down in the Jezero crater on February 18 on a two-year mission to hunt for signs of past life.

Nasa spent weeks painstakingly testing the $2billion machine’s instruments but it is now on the move and capturing footage of its surroundings.

Nasa did not say how big the dust devil was, or how fast it’s thought to have been travelling.

The largest can reach 330ft (100m) wide and five miles (8km) tall – far bigger than those found on Earth.

It’s rare to capture footage of one from a rover as they travel at high speeds and are tricky to predict. Nasa’s Curiosity rover nabbed images of a 160ft (50m) dust devil last summer.

Nasa has previously explained how the vortexes of spinning air appear on the Red Planet.

“Dust devils form by rising and rotating warm air pockets,” the space agency said.

When the incoming air rises into the column, its rotation picks up speed like a spinning ice skater bringing their arms closer to their body.

“This faster moving air near the soil surface can cause sand grains to bounce and kick up dust which easily rises up into the growing vortex. In this way a dust devil is born.”

The study of dust devils can help scientists figure out prevailing wind directions and speed on Mars.

They also periodically cleanse the surface of the dust that gradually settles from the atmosphere.

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