Dust devils are a well-known atmospheric phenomena on Mars, and as these new observations show, the devilish vorticies can carve beautiful patterns in the Martian dust.
What's more -- in side-by-side comparisons of observations of the same Mars region years apart -- it appears that the active Mars atmosphere acts like an Etch A Sketch, rubbing out the dust devils' tracks, only for the dust devils to make brand new tracks years later.
BIG PIC: Dust Devil Spotted Whirling Across Mars
Imaged by the ever-impressive High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), these dust devil tracks were spotted meandering over the Nili Fossae region of the Red Planet's surface.
Dust devils on Mars form in a similar way to their terrestrial counterparts: warm air near the surface rises into cooler air above. If the conditions are right, the pocket of air will begin to rotate and contract, forming small whirlwinds sometimes reaching hundreds of meters into the atmosphere.
BIG PIC: Monster Martian Dust Devil Caught On Camera
These whirling dervishes pick up the top layers of Martian dust as they travel, uncovering the darker layers beneath. The contrast of dark dust devil tracks and light upper dusting makes the tracks easily highlighted for the high-resolution optics of HiRISE.