Frost-Covered Dunes in the North Polar Region
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Frost-Covered Dunes in the North Polar Region
PSP_001660_2570  Science Theme: Aeolian Processes
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This image shows dunes on the northern plains of Mars, and appears similar to images taken when the surface was covered by frost.

However, CRISM spectra taken at the same time do not show evidence for either water or carbon dioxide frost here. Possibly, and consistent with the CRISM spectra, this area is covered by dust, obscuring the dark material that is typically present in dunes of this type.

The orientation of the dunes indicates that they were formed by winds blowing generally from upper right to lower left. Ripples on the dunes show that the wind patterns that formed them are more complex, with the dune shapes affecting the wind direction.

It is not known whether these dunes are currently active (being moved by wind today) or have been in this location for a very long time, but if they are indeed covered by dust they cannot have been recently active.

Between the dunes, the underlying surface of the northern plains can be seen. In places, it has been fractured into polygonal blocks, suggesting that water ice is or was present below the surface. Meter-size blocks are also seen in places in this image and elsewhere on the northern plains. The origin of these blocks is not known, but they may be remnants of erosion of material that once covered this region.

Written by: Ken Herkenhoff  (24 January 2007)

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Acquisition date
03 December 2006

Local Mars time:
14:55

Latitude (centered)
76.692°

Longitude (East)
109.604°

Range to target site
316.8 km (198.0 miles)

Original image scale range
63.4 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~190 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel

Map projection
Polarstereographic

Emission angle:
4.8°

Phase angle:
62.5°

Solar incidence angle
66°, with the Sun about 24° above the horizon

Solar longitude
144.9°, Northern Summer

North azimuth:
101°

Sub-solar azimuth:
327.3°
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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



Postscript
For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. 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. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona. The image data were processed using the U.S. Geological Survey’s ISIS3 software.