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Beyond a dark sand dune closer to the rover, a Martian dust devil passes in front of the horizon in this sequence of images from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. The rover's Navigation Camera made this series of observations on Feb. 4, 2017, in the summertime afternoon of the 1,599th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars.
Set within a broader view centered at south-southwest, 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. Contrast has been modified to make frame-to-frame changes easier to see.
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. A black frame is added between repeats of the sequence.
On Mars as on Earth, dust devils are whirlwinds that result from sunshine warming the ground, prompting convective rising of air that has gained heat from the ground. Observations of Martian dust devils provide information about wind directions and interaction between the surface and the atmosphere.
Curiosity's Sol 1599 location, reached by a drive during the previous sol, is mapped at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/2017/curiositys-traverse-map-through-sol-1598.
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.