“Sand dunes of many shapes and sizes are common on Mars. In this example, the dunes are almost perfectly circular, which is unusual,” commented planetary geologist Alfred McEwen.
Mars is ideal for building sand dunes due to its windy and dusty environment. These dunes, however, are not exactly circular, as further research discovered.
“They are still somewhat asymmetric, with a steep slip face at the southern end. This indicates that the sand generally moves south, but the wind can be variable,” he added.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) photographed the dunes in late November last year using the HiRise camera operated by the University of Arizona.
The absence of snow is visible in the image, which was taken to observe the seasonal variation in snow coverage of the area. A previous image shows when the surface was covered with frost.
While it may seem that the Martian landscape appears otherworldly, the truth is that these photos show the connection between our two planets. Beautiful dunes can also be found on Earth, which reveal similar stories of wind and seasonal changes. Each planet has its own unique beauty that should be cherished.
What is the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission?
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is an orbiting spacecraft that investigates the geological past and current climate of Mars. Since 2006, it has been studying the Red Planet’s atmosphere and terrain from orbit with high-resolution sensors higher than the orbiter Odyssey. It also serves as an important data relay station for several Mars missions.