A Boise State University study reported that the Perseverance rover, which arrived on Mars in February this year, has already detected more than 20 dust eddies, also known as “dust demons” given their large proportions. These phenomena are common on the Red Planet, but now we can learn more about them, thanks to so many sensors collecting a wide variety of data about them on Mars.
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For the new analysis, the researchers used data collected by a set of instruments from Perseverance, called the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) — from moisture and wind sensors to ground temperature or optical dust sensors. The first dust eddies were seen on Mars in the decade of 1024, through NASA’s Viking mission.
Another surprise for the team was that only 15% of the 309 detected vortices were able to decrease the light close to the rover by more than 2%, indicating a low concentration of dust in these eddies. Despite this limitation, researchers believe that the phenomena are one of the main factors responsible for spreading the dust through the Martian atmosphere.