Sand Dune Field in Richardson Crater
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Sand Dune Field in Richardson Crater
PSP_002542_1080  Science Theme: Seasonal Processes


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This observation is a view of the sand dune field in Richardson Crater covered with seasonal frost.

The subimage is a close-up view of defrosting patterns on the dunes. The frost is a combination of frozen carbon dioxide and some water ice that covers the dunes in the winter and spring. As the seasonal frost sublimes away, odd features such as spots, fans, and streaks form.

Small dark streaks on the dune slip face slopes may be where recent avalanches of sand, or perhaps wind, has moved the dark sand underlying the frost, or where frost has been removed to expose the sand. Alternatively, the dark streaks may be patches of coarse-grained ice that are clear enough so that the dark material below the ice is visible. The slip faces indicate that the general direction of sand transport is from the right to the left across the full image.

It has been hypothesized that the dark spots and fans may be "geysers" or "cold gas jets" that form when sublimation processes trap gas at the bottom of the ice. The gas is released through cracks in the ice, entraining dust from below the ice and scattering it onto the surface to form the dark spots and fans.

The high resolution, stereo, and low light imaging capabilities of HiRISE has provided new insight into the processes that form these features. Repeated imaging in a variety of locations will provide a record of their development and evolution.

Written by: Maria Banks   (7 July 2010)

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Acquisition date
10 February 2007

Local Mars time:
16:05

Latitude (centered)
-72.006°

Longitude (East)
179.527°

Range to target site
251.8 km (157.4 miles)

Original image scale range
50.4 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~151 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel

Map projection
Polarstereographic

Emission angle:
9.2°

Phase angle:
88.6°

Solar incidence angle
81°, with the Sun about 9° above the horizon

Solar longitude
181.5°, Northern Autumn

North azimuth:
98°

Sub-solar azimuth:
34.6°
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HiView

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IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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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.