Dazzling Dunes on Mars

Aug 10, 2004
Dazzling Dunes on Mars

As NASA's Opportunity rover creeps farther into "Endurance Crater," the dune field on the crater floor appears even more dramatic. On the left, an approximate true-color image highlights the reddish-colored dust.

On the right, a false-color version of the same image shows that the dune crests have accumulated more dust than the flanks of the dunes and the flat surfaces between them. Also evident is a "blue" tint on the flat surfaces as compared to the dune flanks. This results from the presence of the hematite-containing spherules ("blueberries") that accumulate on the flat surfaces.


Sinuous tendrils of sand less than 1 meter (3.3 feet) high extend from the main dune field toward the rover. Scientists hope to send the rover down to one of these tendrils in an effort to learn more about the characteristics of the dunes. Dunes are a common feature across the surface of Mars, and knowledge gleaned from investigating the Endurance dunes close-up may apply to similar dunes elsewhere.

Before the rover heads down to the dunes, rover drivers must first establish whether the slippery slope that leads to them is firm enough to ensure a successful drive back out of the crater. Otherwise, such hazards might make the dune field a true sand trap.

Source: NASA

Explore further: NASA spacecraft nears historic dwarf planet arrival

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Curiosity's first photo of home planet Earth from Mars

Feb 07, 2014

18 months into her mission to discover a habitable zone on the Red Planet, NASA's Curiosity rover has at last looked back to the inhabited zone of all humanity and snapped her 1st image of all 7 Billion Earthlings ...

Caltech Rover ready for rock-yard competition in Houston

May 29, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Later this week, a four-wheeled robot designed and built by Caltech undergraduate students will maneuver, apparently under its own guidance, through various challenges at the NASA Johnson Space ...

Recommended for you

NASA spacecraft nears historic dwarf planet arrival

13 minutes ago

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned new images captured on approach to its historic orbit insertion at the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn will be the first mission to successfully visit a dwarf planet when it enters ...

An old-looking galaxy in a young universe

3 hours ago

A team of astronomers, led by Darach Watson, from the University of Copenhagen used the Very Large Telescope's X-shooter instrument along with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe ...

Giant methane storms on Uranus

4 hours ago

Most of the times we have looked at Uranus, it has seemed to be a relatively calm place. Well, yes its atmosphere is the coldest place in the solar system. But, when we picture the seventh planet in our ...

User comments : 0

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.