Topography of Moving Dunes in Nili Patera
Topography of Moving Dunes in Nili Patera
ESP_017762_1890  Science Theme: 
Many HiRISE targets are imaged twice, close together in time, with each image having a different viewing angle. From this, we are able to make digital elevation models (DEMs) with precisions of tens of centimeters. Doing this for dunes can be particularly challenging, as they commonly migrate.

However, if the images are close enough together in time, or are inactive, a good model can be made. This is the case here, where an elevation model was produced of the Nili Patera dune field.

These dunes are active and, by computing the height of the moving dunes using this DEM, researchers have determined the sand flux (sand volume per length per time) and find that it is similar to that seen for dunes in Antarctica.

The research also finds that the dunes are moving as coherent masses of mobile sand. This work has important implications, as it shows that wind processes on Mars can transport considerable volumes of sand, which not only contributes to dune migration, but also abrasion (sand blasting) of the surface.

Written by: Nathan Bridges  (7 November 2012)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_018039_1890.
Acquisition date
11 May 2010

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
269.8 km (167.7 miles)

Original image scale range
30.3 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~91 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
47°, with the Sun about 43° above the horizon

Solar longitude
89.3°, Northern Spring

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  96°
Sub-solar azimuth:  36.0°
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   (1246MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (536MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (558MB)
non-map           (561MB)

IRB color
map projected  (203MB)
non-map           (387MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (333MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (319MB)

RGB color
non map           (392MB)
Map-projected, reduced-resolution
Full resolution JP2 download
Anaglyph details page

DTM 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.