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Published on Apr 13, 2012
Dust devils occur on Earth as well as on Mars. They are spinning columns of air, made visible by the dust they pull off the ground. Unlike a tornado, a dust devil typically forms on a clear day when the ground is heated by the sun, warming the air just above the ground. As heated air near the surface rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler air above it, the air may begin to rotate, if conditions are just right. The Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured an image of one of these Martian Twisters. Using this image, scientists have recreated this dust devil in digital space.