See Mars Go Dark in NASA Rover Video of Rowdy Dust Cloud Blasting Across the Landscape

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NASA’s Curiosity rover caught sight of a dust cloud moving across Mars in March 2022.


NASA/JPL-Caltech

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

Mars would be a great place to exfoliate your skin. The windy planet has a habit of kicking up dust, generating whirlwinds and gritty clouds. NASA’s Curiosity rover captured some fantastic footage of a nearby dust cloud so intense it turned the sky dark.

The Curiosity team shared a GIF of the action on Wednesday, saying “Did it get dark in here? Oh, that’s just the dust cloud I caught with my hazcam. While this isn’t the first dusty gust I’ve captured, its size and proximity made for a dense shadow.”

The footage comes from one of the rover’s hazard avoidance cameras (hazcams for short) in March.  

While Mars is infamous for its dust devils, which can leave scratch-like marks across the landscape, this probably wasn’t one of those. “Scientists believe it’s a wind gust rather than a dust devil since it doesn’t appear to have the trademark vorticity, or twisting, of a dust devil,” NASA JPL said in a photo journal entry.

Curiosity has been in residence on the red planet since 2012. It regularly takes time to capture images of the surrounding landscape and look for dust devil action. It caught sight of quite a good one in 2020

Dust on Mars can be a problem for NASA’s robotic explorers. A global dust storm ended the Opportunity rover’s mission and the Ingenuity lander has been dealing with thick dust coat. Curiosity, however, doesn’t rely on solar power, so it can enjoy the view as the dust flies.

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