NASA image: Giant landform on Mars

June 6, 2014 by Matthew Chojnacki
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

(Phys.org) —Sandy landforms formed by the wind, or aeolian bedforms, are classified by the wavelength—or length—between crests. On Mars, we can observe four classes of bedforms (in order of increasing wavelengths): ripples, transverse aeolian ridges (known as TARs), dunes, and what are called "draa." All of these are visible in this Juventae Chasma image.

Ripples are the smallest bedforms (less than 20 meters) and can only be observed in high-resolution images commonly superposed on many surfaces. TARs are slightly larger bedforms (wavelengths approximately 20 to 70 meters), which are often light in tone relative to their surroundings. Dark-toned dunes (wavelengths 100 meters to 1 kilometer) are a common landform and many are active today. What geologists call "draa" is the highest-order bedform with largest wavelengths (greater than 1 kilometer), and is relatively uncommon on Mars.

Here, this giant draa possesses steep faces or slip faces several hundreds of meters tall and has lower-order superposed bedforms, such as and dunes. A bedform this size likely formed over thousands of Mars years, probably longer.

This image was acquired by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Jan. 6, 2014. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates the HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Explore further: Image: A whole new world for Curiosity

Related Stories

Image: A whole new world for Curiosity

August 14, 2012

(Phys.org) -- This color-enhanced view -- taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as the satellite flew overhead -- shows the terrain around the rover's landing ...

Mars orbiter images rover and tracks in Gale Crater

January 9, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and its recent tracks from driving in Gale Crater appear in an image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter ...

NASA Mars orbiter examines dramatic new crater

February 5, 2014

(Phys.org) —Space rocks hitting Mars excavate fresh craters at a pace of more than 200 per year, but few new Mars scars pack as much visual punch as one seen in a NASA image released today.

Image: Martian sand dunes in spring

March 7, 2014

(Phys.org) —Mars' northern-most sand dunes are beginning to emerge from their winter cover of seasonal carbon dioxide (dry) ice. Dark, bare south-facing slopes are soaking up the warmth of the sun.

NASA image: Active dune field on Mars

May 5, 2014

Nili Patera is one of the most active dune fields on Mars. As such, it is continuously monitored with the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera, a science instrument aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance ...

Recommended for you

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

July 29, 2015

The coalescence of two black holes—a very violent and exotic event—is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.