Dust Devil Tracks or a Jackson Pollock Painting?

A subframe CTX image on Planet Four: Terrains showing many dust devil tracks. Discuss this image at https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/mschwamb/planet-four-terrains/talk/subjects/1041527/

A subframe CTX image on Planet Four: Terrains showing many dust devil tracks. Discuss this image at https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/mschwamb/planet-four-terrains/talk/subjects/1041527/

You might have seen an image like the one above while classifying on Planet Four: Terrains. It reminds me of Jackson Pollock’s painting style. Those dark lines crisscrossing the image are actually dust devil tracks. Dust devils are mini-tornadoes on the surface of Mars, kicking up and clearing dust in their paths. Dust devils exist in the plains and deserts on Earth. The Martian equivalent can be considerably bigger than those found on Earth. Their tracks can be seen from orbit in images from CTX and other cameras.

Here’s what dust devils look like from orbit. This image was captured by the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

A dust devil spotted from orbit. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona - More info at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/multimedia/pia15116.html

A dust devil spotted from orbit. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona – More info at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/multimedia/pia15116.html

Dust devils have been caught in the act  on the ground in the mid-latitudes by several robotic rovers and landers  including the  Mars Exploration Rovers (Opportunity and Spirit). Actually Spirit and Opportunity have had dust devils  pass over them, cleaning their solar panels. Below was a series of dust devils passing through nearby the Spirit rover in Gusev crater.

Dust devils in Gusev Crater spotted by the Spirit rover - Image credit: NASA/JPL - /Texas A&M - More info at http://mars.nasa.gov/mer/gallery/press/spirit/20050819a.html

Dust devils in Gusev Crater spotted by the Spirit rover – Image credit: NASA/JPL – /Texas A&M – More info at http://mars.nasa.gov/mer/gallery/press/spirit/20050819a.html

You might be wondering why we don’t ask you to mark these in the main Planet Four: Terrains interface. The reason is because they’re so ubiquitous that a full map of their locations isn’t needed, but if you’re interested you can identify images like this on Talk using the #dustdeviltracks hashtag.

Thanks to volunteer o0ohando0o for spotting this image and posting about it on Planet Four: Terrains Talk. You can find more examples of dust devil tracks as well as other things you might encounter in the Planet Four: Terrains images in our Site Guide.

 

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