Status Report

Vortices and Dust Devils As Observed by the MEDA Instruments onboard Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover

By SpaceRef Editor
September 14, 2021
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Brian Jackson

An important and perhaps dominant source of dust in the martian atmosphere, dust devils play a key role in Mars’ climate. Datasets from previous landed missions have revealed dust devil activity, constrained their structures, and elucidated their dust-lifting capacities. However, each landing site and observational season exhibits unique meteorological properties that shape dust devil activity and help illuminate their dependence on ambient conditions. The recent release of data from the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) instrument suite onboard the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover promises a new treasure-trove for dust devil studies. In this study, we sift the time-series from MEDA’s Pressure Sensor (PS) and Radiative and Dust Sensors (RDS) to look for the signals of passing vortices and dust devils. We detected 309 vortex encounters over the mission’s first 89 sols. Consistent with predictions, these encounter rates exceed InSight and Curiosity’s encounter rates by factors of several. The RDS time-series also allows us to assess whether a passing vortex is likely to be dusty (and therefore is a true dust devil) or dustless. We find that about one-third of vortices show signs of dust-lofting, although unfavorable encounter geometries may have prevented us from detecting dust for other vortices. In addition to these results, we discuss prospects for vortex studies as additional data from Mars 2020 are processed and made available.

Comments: Submitted to PSJ. Feedback sought and gratefully received. 19 pages, 7 figures, 1 table

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:2109.04601 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2109.04601v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Brian Jackson 

[v1] Fri, 10 Sep 2021 00:43:40 UTC (5,511 KB)

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