Transverse Dunes in the Northern Lowlands
Transverse Dunes in the Northern Lowlands
PSP_008681_2550  Science Theme: Seasonal Processes
The Vastitas Borealis region, or northern lowlands, is a large area of low-lying surface that surrounds Mars’ North Pole.

On average, the region is 4-5 kilometers lower in elevation than the mean radius of the planet. How this basin formed is not known, although researchers have postulated that it could have been the result of a very large-scale impact sometime in Mars’ distant past. As of this writing, it is summer in the Martian northern hemisphere, allowing the HiRISE camera to image this region in full sunlight.

The sinuous landforms are dunes composed of sand that is made of basalt (a volcanic rock) or gypsum (a hydrous sulfate). There is a transition of modified barchanoid (crescent shaped dunes, generally wider than they are long) and transverse chains into star dunes; the winds change a lot in this area. The orientation of the barchanoid and transverse dunes indicate that the winds that formed them blow from the east (right side of image). In some areas there are a few linear dunes. The light-toned, smaller bedforms are designated transverse aeolian ridges (TARs).

Written by: Shawn Hart  (13 August 2008)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_009195_2550.
Acquisition date
02 June 2008

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
317.4 km (197.3 miles)

Original image scale range
31.8 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
54°, with the Sun about 36° above the horizon

Solar longitude
80.2°, Northern Spring

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  101°
Sub-solar azimuth:  325.7°
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   (1543MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (586MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (1022MB)
non-map           (627MB)

IRB color
map projected  (443MB)
non-map           (532MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (239MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (218MB)

RGB color
non map           (528MB)
Map-projected, reduced-resolution
Full resolution JP2 download
Anaglyph 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.