Dunes of Sand: Resumed Mars Orbiter Observations Yield Stunning Views

January 14, 2010
Dunes of sand-sized materials have been trapped on the floors of many Martian craters. This is one example, from a crater in Noachis Terra, west of the giant Hellas impact basin. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

(PhysOrg.com) -- Dunes of sand-sized materials have been trapped on the floors of many Martian craters. This view shows dunes inside a crater in Noachis Terra, west of the giant Hellas impact basin in Mars' southern hemisphere.

The (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this view on Dec. 28, 2009. The orbiter resumed making observations in mid-December following a three-month hiatus.

A set of new images from the HiRISE camera is on the camera team's site, at hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/nea.php .

The dunes here are linear, thought to be due to shifting wind directions. In places, each dune is remarkably similar to adjacent dunes, including a reddish (or dust-colored) band on northeast-facing slopes. Large angular boulders litter the floor between dunes.

The most extensive linear dune fields known in the are on Saturn's large . Titan has a very different environment and composition, so at meter-scale resolution they probably are very different from Martian dunes.

Explore further: Dazzling Dunes on Mars

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1 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2010
What are the brown "streams" in the valleys between the dunes? It looks like those "gussets", found all over the planet, pass right through the "streams".

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