Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Martian Dunes

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 10:25 AM

PSP_007962_2635.jpg
  • NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
New images from the UA Lunar and Planetary Lab's HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, including a shot of the dry ice melting near in the high northern latitudes.

LPL's Candy Hansen tells us:

There is a vast region of sand dunes at high northern latitudes on Mars. In the winter, a layer of carbon dioxide ice covers the dunes, and in the spring as the sun warms the ice it evaporates. This is a very active process, and sand dislodged from the crests of the dunes cascades down, forming dark streaks.

In the subimage falling material has kicked up a small cloud of dust. The color of the ice surrounding adjacent streaks of material suggests that dust has settled on the ice at the bottom after similar events.

Also discernible in this subimage are polygonal cracks in the ice on the dunes (the cracks disappear when the ice is gone).

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