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This sequence of images shows a dust-carrying whirlwind, called a dust devil, on lower Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater, as viewed by NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover during the summer afternoon of the rover's 1,613rd Martian day, or sol (Feb. 18, 2017).
Set within a broader southward view from the rover's Navigation Camera, the rectangular area outlined in black was imaged multiple times over a span of several minutes to check for dust devils. Images from the period with most activity are shown in the inset area.
The images are in pairs that were taken about 12 seconds apart, with an interval of about 90 seconds between pairs. Timing is accelerated and not fully proportional in this animation. Contrast has been modified to make frame-to-frame changes easier to see. A black frame provides a marker between repeats of the sequence.
On Mars as on Earth, dust devils result from sunshine warming the ground, prompting convective rising of air that has gained heat from the ground. Observations of dust devils provide information about wind directions and interaction between the surface and the atmosphere.
Curiosity's Sol 1613 location, reached by a drive during the previous sol, is mapped at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/2017/curiosity-rovers-location-for-sol-1612.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover and the rover's Navcam.
For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.