Climbing Dunes Escaping a Crater in Aonia Terra
Climbing Dunes Escaping a Crater in Aonia Terra
ESP_039380_1290  Science Theme: Aeolian Processes
One of the fundamental questions of any sedimentary system relates to where the sediment is coming from. Craters on Mars, or any depressions, primarily fill the role of sediment sinks, but they can also serve as sources for sand and other materials.

However, dunes and other sandy bedforms on Mars have a propensity for migrating up steep slopes including the cliffs of Valles Marineris.

This stereo pair and DTM reveal one such location where sandy bedforms appear to be crawling out of a crater. This crater is near 1 kilometer deep and shows steep slopes particularly on the south face. For example, we can see gully systems have carved shallow channels in the face of this dune, while nearby slopes are piling up debris along the cliff edge (500 meters wide). Nevertheless, there are dunes climbing and exiting the crater towards the north where an even larger sand erg is found.

In this 4.6-kilometer wide view, we can see a topographic profile across the climbing dunes and onto the plateau above. Thus, this DTM from HiRISE shows an example where the crater serves as a sand source, rather than sink, for some regional windblown systems.

Written by: Matthew Chojnacki  (7 April 2023)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_039657_1290.
Acquisition date
20 December 2014

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
249.9 km (155.3 miles)

Original image scale range
25.2 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~76 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
46°, with the Sun about 44° above the horizon

Solar longitude
256.5°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  96°
Sub-solar azimuth:  20.0°
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   (501MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (388MB)
non-map           (561MB)

IRB color
map projected  (162MB)
non-map           (501MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (201MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (204MB)

RGB color
non map           (465MB)
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’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.