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Beautiful dunes on Mars, sculpted by swirling winds

Wind-sculpted dunes on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UArizona

This attention-grabbing picture from the HiRISE digital camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveals a discipline of fascinating dunes known as barchan dunes. These dunes have shaped alongside a cliff in Chasma Boreale, within the North Pole of Mars.

The High-Resolution Imaging Experiment, or HIRISE is a strong digital camera takes photos that see options as small as a desk from orbit. The picture right here reveals an space lower than 1 km (below a mile) throughout and MRO was about 197 km above the floor when the picture was taken.

HiRISE scientists say that barchan dunes are frequent on each Earth and Mars. Usually, these dunes are very distinctive in form, and are essential as a result of they will inform scientists in regards to the setting wherein they shaped and the course of the winds at a selected location.

Barchans type in sandy areas the place winds blow in a single dominant course. This creates a crescent-shaped sand dune. The arcs of sand that outline the barchan dunes finish in “horns” that time downwind, whereas sand is blown into crests and slopes. Many instances, this types a form that, from above, appears just like the Star Trek insignia.

The winds on the Martian North Pole should swirl in numerous instructions as a result of the dunes proven above aren’t formed within the basic crescent, chevron form. The picture was taken utilizing the red-green-blue filter on the digital camera, giving the sand a blue look.

  • Beautiful dunes on mars, sculpted by swirling winds
    Barchan Dunes are shaped in prevailing winds. Credit: unknown. CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=571880
  • Beautiful dunes on mars, sculpted by swirling winds
    This crescent-shaped barchan dune in southeast Hellas Planitia is the results of a posh story of dunes, lava, and wind. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UArizona

The HiRISE digital camera operates in visible wavelengths, the identical as human eyes, however with a telescopic lens that makes it one of many highest decision cameras at present in space. These high-resolution images allow scientists to differentiate 1-meter-size (about 3-foot-size) objects on Mars and to review the surface structure in a way more complete method than another Mars mission.

HiRISE additionally makes observations at near-infrared wavelengths to acquire data on the minerals current. MRO has been in Mars orbit since 2006, and the longevity of the mission means planetary scientists can monitor adjustments over time. The purpose for taking the lead picture is for the crew to trace for seasonal adjustments on this area over time.

It’s springtime on Mars, and the dunes are defrosting

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Beautiful dunes on Mars, sculpted by swirling winds (2022, September 9)
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