Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Mars: Defrosting Dunes in Kaiser Crater | NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Mars: Defrosting Dunes in Kaiser Crater | NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

The dark sand dune at the center of this observation is covered in a blanket of white seasonal ice in the winter. In this Martian springtime image, the western slope of the dune is partly defrosted.

Bright patches of frost (white in enhanced color) are clearly visible and are made up of water and carbon dioxide ices. Dark streaks of sand have flowed down the dune’s slope that sometimes covers the frost. These flows are caused by the rapid transformation of the frost from ice to gas as the sun heats the dune in the spring.

We can also see how these flows are diverted by the ripples on the dune. (The width of the cutout is around 520 meters.)

Note: Black and white images are 5 km across; enhanced color images are 1 km.

Image Data:

Latitude (centered)


Longitude (East)


Spacecraft altitude

251.4 km (156.3 miles)

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates  the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado. 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

“For 17 years, MRO has been revealing Mars to us as no one had seen it before,” said the mission’s project scientist, Rich Zurek of JPL.

Video Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
Caption Credit: Susan J. Conway
Narration: Tre Gibbs
Duration: 50 seconds
Image Date: Dec. 8, 2021
Release Date: March 15, 2022

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