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Discovery of dust devil vortices in Mars Pathfinder (MPF) images reveals a dust entrainment mechanism at work on Mars. Scattering of visible light by dust in the Martian atmosphere creates a pronounced haze, preventing conventional image processing from displaying dust plumes. Spectral differencing techniques have enhanced five localized dust plumes from the general haze in images acquired near midday, which we determine to be dust devils. Processing of 440 nm images highlights dust devils as distinct occultation features against the horizon. The dust devils are interpreted to be 14-79 m wide, 46-350 m tall, travel at 0.5-4.6 m/s, with dust loading of 7E-5 kg m-3, relative to the general haze of 9E-8 kg m-3, and total particulate transport of 2.2 - 700 kg. The vortices match predictions from terrestrial analog studies. Copyright 1999 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Dust devil vortices seen by the Mars Pathfinder camera