Field Measurements of Terrestrial and Martian Dust Devils

Jim Murphy*, Kathryn Steakley, Matt Balme, Gregoire Deprez, Francesca Esposito, Henrik Kahanpää, Mark Lemmon, Ralph Lorenz, Naomi Murdoch, Lynn Neakrase, Manish Patel, Patrick Whelley

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Surface-based measurements of terrestrial and martian dust devils/convective vortices provided from mobile and stationary platforms are discussed. Imaging of terrestrial dust devils has quantified their rotational and vertical wind speeds, translation speeds, dimensions, dust load, and frequency of occurrence. Imaging of martian dust devils has provided translation speeds and constraints on dimensions, but only limited constraints on vertical motion within a vortex. The longer mission durations on Mars afforded by long operating robotic landers and rovers have provided statistical quantification of vortex occurrence (time-of-sol, and recently seasonal) that has until recently not been a primary outcome of more temporally limited terrestrial dust devil measurement campaigns. Terrestrial measurement campaigns have included a more extensive range of measured vortex parameters (pressure, wind, morphology, etc.) than have martian opportunities, with electric field and direct measure of dust abundance not yet obtained on Mars. No martian robotic mission has yet provided contemporaneous high frequency wind and pressure measurements. Comparison of measured terrestrial and martian dust devil characteristics suggests that martian dust devils are larger and possess faster maximum rotational wind speeds, that the absolute magnitude of the pressure deficit within a terrestrial dust devil is an order of magnitude greater than a martian dust devil, and that the time-of-day variation in vortex frequency is similar. Recent terrestrial investigations have demonstrated the presence of diagnostic dust devil signals within seismic and infrasound measurements; an upcoming Mars robotic mission will obtain similar measurement types.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-87
    Number of pages49
    JournalSpace Science Reviews
    Issue number1-4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
    MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


    • Dust devils


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