May 24, 2013

Where does martian sand come from?

A piece of Mars: The source of dune sand on Mars is normally something of a mystery. But here on the interior wall of a small crater it appears that small gullies have eroded sediment from the wall and carried […]
May 21, 2013

New dust devils swirls

A piece of Mars: Swirly loops form on the martian surface as dust devils pass by, cleaning up dust on the surface and revealing the dark, rippled dune beneath. Every year the swirls get cleaned off and reform — such […]
May 2, 2013

Dunes on crater bones

A piece of Mars. The dark circle (~170 m across) in the middle of the picture is the interior of what used to be a crater. It’s now almost completely eroded away, probably by the wind. Small dunes have formed […]
April 22, 2013

Topography and the wind

A piece of Mars: Everybody else loves this image because it shows an inverted channel — the remains of a stream that once flowed through this area. But I love it because the little dunes were also formed by a […]
April 16, 2013

Modern art or windy Mars?

A piece of Mars: Is it modern art? Well maybe it looks like it from a distance. Up close, this is reality on Mars. These are dark dunes in the southern hemisphere, awaking from a long hibernation beneath bright winter […]
March 27, 2013

Giant crayons on Mars

A piece of Mars: There are vast plains on Mars that display criss-crossing streaks like this. These are ~5 m (~16 feet) across, give or take. Did an alien drive a dune buggy all over, leaving behind tracks? Nope. These […]
March 22, 2013

Dunes in the spring

A piece of Mars: Dunes near the north and south poles get cold in the winter, just like they do on Earth. Except on Mars instead of H2O ice, it’s a mix of CO2 and H2O ice (mostly CO2). In […]
March 19, 2013

Nili Patera

A piece of Mars: Nili Patera on Mars is an ancient volcano. Some of the old volcanic material has been blown into rather striking sand dunes. It is the first place where dunes were conclusively identified as actively moving. Here’s […]
March 15, 2013

Spines

A piece of Mars: Here are some old dunes that look a little like vertebrae of fossils (if you think they look like dragon spines poking out of the ground then you’re playing too many video games). The white areas […]