There's only two ways to look at this: it's a ghastly looking serpent snaking its way on the red planet, swallowing everything in its path and burrowing itself inside the planet's core. Or it's a gigantic floating sperm looking to impregnate the red egg with hopes of a Martian baby.
OK, I guess it could also be whatever NASA says it is too. Captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, it's an image of the Amazonis Planitia region of northern Mars. The dust is about 27m in diameter and 800m over the surface. How did it happen?
A westerly breeze partway up the height of the dust devil produced a delicate arc in the plume. The image was taken during the time of Martian year when the planet is farthest from the sun. Just as on Earth, winds on Mars are powered by solar heating. Exposure to the sun's rays declines during this season, yet even now, dust devils act relentlessly to clean the surface of freshly deposited dust, a little at a time.
I'm still going with ghost snake. [NASA]