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Mars challenge: Find all the dust devils in this view of the red planet


There are at least two and possibly more dust devils hiding in this image taken by the ExoMars CaSSIS.


ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

Warm up your eyeballs. The European Space Agency has a visual challenge for you: Try to spot all the dust devils in an image captured by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System on the ExoMars orbiter. 

The false-color composite image has been processed to highlight features of the landscape below, which shows a portion of the northern hemisphere of Mars. That means the colors aren’t accurate to what they would look like with the naked eye, but it also means it’s a little easier to find the whirlwinds.

The CaSSIS team tweeted the image, which was snapped back in May. “Dust devils appear as small vortexes and slightly bluer in this false-color composite image. Can you spot them?” the team wrote on Friday, noting there are “several active dust devils” in the view.

I scrutinized the image and found two dust devils I can confidently identify, along with what may be two smaller ones. Am I missing any? You tell me.

Mars is infamously dusty and windy, which is the perfect storm for frequent dust devil activity. It’s such a normal part of the Mars experience that NASA had planned on a dust devil sweeping along to wipe off the InSight lander’s solar panels. Unfortunately, Mars didn’t cooperate and NASA had to get creative to clean the panels.   

The ExoMars orbiter is a joint project from ESA and Russian space agency Roscosmos. The agencies are working toward launching an ExoMars rover in 2022.

The CaSSIS image is a fantastic way to visualize dust devils on Mars. If you want to see what they look like from ground level, check out this fun view from NASA’s Perseverance rover. Dance, dust devil, dance.





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