Falling Material Kicks Up Cloud of Dust on Dunes
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Falling Material Kicks Up Cloud of Dust on Dunes
PSP_007962_2635  Science Theme: Polar Geology


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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).

Written by: Candy Hansen   (6 January 2010)

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Acquisition date
07 April 2008

Local Mars time:

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Range to target site
319.6 km (199.8 miles)

Original image scale range
32.0 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~96 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel

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Emission angle:

Phase angle:

Solar incidence angle
63°, with the Sun about 27° above the horizon

Solar longitude
55.7°, Northern Spring

North azimuth:

Sub-solar azimuth:
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NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona. The image data were processed using the U.S. Geological Survey’s ISIS3 software.