Ever since Galileo Galilei first discovered in Mars in 1610, humans have had a never ending fascination with the big red planet. One of the instruments used to help us get a better understanding of our neighbouring planet is the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
MRO has been in orbit around Mars since March 2006, and ever since then it has been providing us with a steady supply of awe-inspiring images of the Martian surface, a few of which we’ve gathered below.
‘Where the wind blows’
Scientists study dunes because their shape and size can give us valuable information about the wind directions and speeds in current and past climates.
‘Monitoring Active Gullies’
Monitoring of gullies could help scientists better understand the conditions where the gullies are active, and in doing so, help understand how they form.
‘Barchan and Linear Dunes’
This image shows two types of sand dunes on Mars. The small dots are called barchan dunes, and from their shape we can tell that they are upwind. The downwind dunes are long and linear.
‘Dunes Frozen in Time’
Sand dunes are found in many places on Mars. At most of these places the dunes are slowly moving, blown by the wind, just like on Earth. However, in this location in south Melas Chasma they appear to have turned to stone.
‘Streamers of Frost’
This image of Penticton Crater, taken at latitude 38 degrees south, shows streamers of seasonal carbon dioxide ice (dry ice) only remaining in places in the terrain that are still partially in the shade.
‘A Martian Game Board’
The many bumps are sand dunes less than 100 meters across that are mostly covered by seasonal frost, appearing in a manner that looks artificial but is a natural consequence of the wind patterns in this region.
‘Layers in Danielson Crater’
This image shows sedimentary rock and sand within Danielson Crater, an impact crater 67 kilometers in diameter, located in the southwest Arabia Terra region of Mars.
If you’re interested in seeing more images of our neighbouring planet visit NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory by clicking here.
Feature Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech