Dark Dunes in Herschel Crater
Dark Dunes in Herschel Crater
PSP_002860_1650  Science Theme: Aeolian Processes
This observation shows part of the floor of Herschel Crater, a roughly 300 kilometer wide impact basin located in the southern cratered highlands of Mars.

The subimage is a close-up of a dark-toned sand dune field located on the crater floor. These dunes are "barchan" dunes, which are also commonly found on Earth. Barchan dunes are generally crescent-shaped, with their "horns" oriented in the downwind direction. They have a steep slip face (the downwind side of the dune).

Barchan dunes form by winds that blow mostly in one direction and thus are good indicators of the dominant wind direction. In this case, the strongest winds blow approximately north to south.

The surface of the dunes has a generally pitted and grooved texture and, in some places, is covered with smaller ripples. The grooved texture has led researchers in the past to believe the dune sands are "lithified," or cemented together. The rock that formed as a result has since been eroded and scoured by wind.

These dark dunes in Herschel Crater are most likely composed of basaltic sand.

Written by: Maria Banks  (11 April 2007)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_003572_1650.
Acquisition date
07 March 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
258.8 km (160.8 miles)

Original image scale range
25.9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~78 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
56°, with the Sun about 34° above the horizon

Solar longitude
195.9°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  7.3°
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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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.