Sand Dunes near the North Pole
Sand Dunes near the North Pole
ESP_018011_2565  Science Theme: Aeolian Processes
This HiRISE image shows some large sand dunes near the North Pole of Mars. The picture was taken in summertime, with only small patches of ice remaining at the surface: this show up as bright, somewhat blue, spots on slopes that provide some shading from the sun.

Geologists would classify these dunes as "sand-starved" because the ground between the dunes has almost no sand. This ground shows a pattern of cracks that is typical of icy permafrost that undergoes seasonal expansion and contraction. It is also possible that this subsurface ice exists inside the dunes. If so, the dunes are not currently moving, being "stabilized" by this ice.

This idea is supported by the observation that there are small landslide gullies being cut into the dunes, something not seen if the dunes are rejuvenated as they move in the wind. However, to test this idea this area has been repeatedly imaged by multiple cameras on different spacecraft. With meticulous care it will be eventually possible to determine just how much the dunes have moved or changed over the past several years.

Written by: Lazlo Kestay  (30 June 2010)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_018525_2565.
Acquisition date
30 May 2010

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
317.2 km (197.1 miles)

Original image scale range
31.7 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~95 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
55°, with the Sun about 35° above the horizon

Solar longitude
97.9°, Northern Summer

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  103°
Sub-solar azimuth:  326.1°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (866MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (395MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (467MB)
non-map           (357MB)

IRB color
map projected  (149MB)
non-map           (305MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (237MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (230MB)

RGB color
non map           (283MB)
Map-projected, reduced-resolution
Full resolution JP2 download
Anaglyph details page

DTM details page

B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.