Changes on Dunes in Russell Crater
Changes on Dunes in Russell Crater
ESP_021496_1255  Science Theme: Seasonal Processes
HiRISE images of the large sand dunes in Russell Crater have been repeatedly acquired to look for evidence of surface changes.

This full image shows diffuse, dark patterns that are likely caused by many dust devils removing bright dust from the surface of the dunes. In addition, as shown in the cutout, narrow troughs continue to form on the steep faces of the sand dunes.

These troughs appear to be formed when chunks of carbon dioxide ("dry") ice slides down the face of the dune. The image on the left was taken a bit over a Mars year before the image on the right; both were taken in the springtime. The ice blocks may sometimes slide down the same troughs, but comparison of these two images shows that new troughs have been formed during the past year. The pits near the ends of the troughs may be locations where blocks of ice came to rest and then evaporated away.

Written by: Ken Herkenhoff  (9 March 2011)
Acquisition date
26 February 2011

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
250.4 km (155.6 miles)

Original image scale range
25.9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~78 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
49°, with the Sun about 41° above the horizon

Solar longitude
244.1°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  94°
Sub-solar azimuth:  24.3°
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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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.