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PIA15283: Dunes in Noachis Terra Region of Mars January 25, 2012

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http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpegMod/PIA15283_modest.jpg
Description:

This enhanced-color image shows sand dunes trapped in an impact crater in Noachis Terra, Mars. Dunes and sand ripples of various shapes and sizes display the natural beauty created by physical processes. The area covered in the image is about six-tenths of a mile (1 kilometer) across.

Sand dunes are among the most widespread wind-formed features on Mars. Their distribution and shapes are affected by changes in wind direction and wind strength. Patterns of dune erosion and deposition provide insight into the sedimentary history of the surrounding terrain.

The image is one product from an observation by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera taken on Nov. 29, 2011, at 42 degrees south latitude, 42 degrees east longitude. Other image products from the same observation are at http://www.uahirise.org/ESP_025042_1375.

HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates the orbiter’s HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image Credit:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Image Addition Date:

2012-01-25

The Crazy Floor of Hellas Basin July 30, 2011

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The Crazy Floor of Hellas Basin

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Explanation:

The deep floor of Hellas impact basin is often obscured by haze, but at times we get some clear views. There are some strange landforms down there, and this image is one example.

The image covers the rim region of a crater that appears filled in, perhaps by river sediment (the rim is breached by a channel). The colors (see enhanced color subimage) indicate that diverse minerals are present.

Written by:

Alfred McEwen   (27 July 2011)

A Dark Dune Field in Proctor Crater on Mars November 28, 2010

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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Credit:

HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA

Explanation:

Was this image taken with a telescope or a microscope? Perhaps this clue will help: if the dark forms were bacteria, they would each span over football field across. What is actually being seen are large sand dunes on the floor of Proctor Crater on Mars. The above picture was taken by HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a robot spacecraft currently in orbit around Mars. The dark rippled dunes likely formed more recently than the lighter rock forms they appear to cover, and are thought to slowly shift in response to pervasive winds. The dunes arise from a complex relationship between the sandy surface and high winds on Mars. Similar dunes were first seen in Proctor Crater by Mariner 9 more than 35 years ago.

Mars’ Moon Deimos March 12, 2009

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Deimos
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Description:

These color-enhanced views of Deimos, the smaller of the two moons of Mars, were taken on Feb. 21, 2009, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Deimos is about 7.5 miles in diameter.

Deimos has a smooth surface due to a blanket of fragmental rock or regolith, except for the most recent impact craters. It is a dark, reddish object, very similar to Mars’ other moon, Phobos.

These Deimos images combine HiRISE exposures in near-infrared, red and blue-green wavelengths. In the enhanced color, subtle color variations are visible — redder in the smoothest areas and less red near the fresh impact craters and over ridges of topographic highs. The color variations are probably caused by exposure of surface material to the space environment, which leads to darkening and reddening. Brighter and less-red surface materials have seen less exposure to space due to recent impacts or downslope movement of regolith.

Image Credit:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Layering in Uzer Crater Wall October 18, 2008

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Layering in Uzer Crater Wall

Credit:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Description:

This image shows a portion of Uzer Crater, located in Sinus Meridiani near the equator in the northern hemisphere of Mars.

Light-toned layered rocks are visible on the wall of Uzer Crater. Differences in color highlight variations in the layered units. Wind erosion, in particular, has modified the layers since exposure creating rounded depressions. These layers are interpreted to be an outcrop of sedimentary rocks that formed by sediments once deposited in this area. The origin of the sediments composing the layers is unknown but may have included fluvial processes and wind blown particles such as dust or volcanic ash.

Over time, the sediments were solidified into rock and eventually exposed when an impact formed Uzer Crater. Northern Sinus Meridiani has many similar outcrops of light-toned sedimentary material that are observed over a large region.

On Mars, as on Earth, sedimentary rocks preserve a record of past environments. HiRISE color images reveal details in the layers that will help scientists learn more about their origin.

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Crater on North Polar Layered Deposits October 16, 2008

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Crater on North Polar Layered Deposits

Credit:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Description:

The north polar layered deposits, and the bright ice cap that covers them, are very young (by geologic standards) features. To try and figure out the age of an area, or how quickly it’s being resurfaced, planetary scientists count up the number of craters at different sizes. An older surface has more time to accumulate more craters whereas a younger surface, or one that has a lot of geologic activity that destroys craters, doesn’t have many impact craters.

These polar deposits have a very low crater count so it is possible that the ice cap (bright white in this image) might only by about 10,000 years old and the surface of the layered deposits (orange-brown in this image) may be only a few million years old. This sounds like a long time but is very short compared to other surfaces on Mars.

HiRISE is enabling a more detailed study of these polar craters and the target of this observation is visible in the center of the image. This crater proved to be a surprise in a few ways. Its shape is non-circular which is quite unusual for an impact crater. One possibility is that flow of the ice beneath the surrounding terrain has deformed the crater; however, ice-flow rates are thought to be very low on Mars today.

The crater also contains a patch of bright ice despite being surrounded by terrain that has mostly lost its ice cover. This seems typical for these polar craters and it may be that ice within these craters is protected from ablation by shading from the crater walls.

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Saltating Gypsum into Dark Polar Dunes October 16, 2008

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Saltating Gypsum into Dark Polar Dunes

Credit:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Description:

Gypsum is a common water-based mineral found in evaporative beds (ancient lakes or seas) on Earth. Gypsum rarely occurs in sand dunes on Earth as it is water-soluble (dissolves in water). However, gypsum can be trapped in basins that have no water outlets or receive very light precipitation and form beautiful dunes. The White Sands National Monument in the Tularosa Basin, New Mexico, is the largest gypsum dune field in the world. OMEGA, an instrument onboard the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express has detected gypsum deposits in the Martian north polar erg.

Where did the gypsum come from? Scientists propose that gypsum deposits formed as a result of melting or retreating ice sheets in a polar evaporate basal unit. In this image, gypsum may originate from the bright bedrock and may mix with saltating dark sand. However, the true source of the gypsum is still debated among planetary scientists.

The mafic (basaltic) dark dunes are predominately transverse with transitioning linear and barchanoid dunes with the wind coming from changing west-northwest and west-southwest directions. These dunes have several active processes occurring within them; grain avalanching is present at the crest of dunes and fading dark slope streaks are visible on the slipface.

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Translucent Ice in North Polar Region October 12, 2008

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 Translucent Ice in North Polar Region

Credit:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Description:

This polar terrain is located near the north pole. The bright patch of material is ice, which might have been deposited in the previous winter.

After ice in the form of surface frost is deposited from the atmosphere, it experiences changes throughout the Martian year. Some of the ice has a polygonal texture which probably formed when temperature variations created stress and cracks in the ice.

The dark features scattered throughout the scene are dunes. The streaks emanating from the dunes trending in the southwest direction indicate the dominant direction of the wind in recent times

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Layers of Red Cliffs on Mars October 12, 2008

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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Credit:

HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA

Explanation:

How did these layers of red cliffs form on Mars? No one is sure. The northern ice cap on Mars is nearly divided into two by a huge division named Chasma Boreale. No similar formation occurs on Earth. Pictured above, several dusty layers leading into this deep chasm are visible. Cliff faces, mostly facing left but still partly visible from above, appear dramatically red. The light areas are likely water ice. The above image spans about one kilometer near the north of Mars, and the elevation drop from right to left is over a kilometer. One hypothesis relates the formation of Chasma Boreale to underlying volcanic activity.

Mineralogical Diversity in Nili Fossae (PSP_009138_2025) August 26, 2008

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Mineralogical Diversity in Nili Fossae

Credit:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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Explanation:

There is evidence of phyllosilicate material (clays) throughout this region, named Nili Fossae. The evidence comes from the OMEGA experiment on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft and CRISM on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, infrared spectrometers that can identify minerals on the surface of Mars.

In the Nili Fossae region, the spectrometers have found remarkable diversity in surface composition. Because of the evidence for clays and other interesting geology, Nili Fossae is also being considered as a landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory rover.

HiRISE has targeted several places where OMEGA and CRISM show extreme diversity, with this being one example. In this specific area, low-calcium pyroxene (LCP) materials are adjacent to these clays. The cracked terrain regions evident at the highest resolution provide clues to the sequence of events which occurred in Nili Fossae.

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