August 6, 2012

Last night I said it couldn’t be done

A piece of Mars: Last night I said it couldn’t be done. But here it is, a HiRISE image of Curiosity descending towards its landing spot in Gale crater. From this image it has been determined that Curiosity landed a […]
August 3, 2012

A beautiful tangle

A piece of Mars: Compare this with my post five days ago and you might think the scenes are similar. In fact they’re not. In the previous case sedimentary layers were carved out by the wind, leaving behind swirly patterns […]
July 30, 2012

Double trouble

A piece of Mars: Bright dunes once marched through the depression created by a double impact. How can you tell the dunes are no longer moving? Because one of them has its own little crater sitting on it. A mobile […]
July 29, 2012

Wind erodes rocks into swirls

A piece of Mars: When the wind sandblasts at layered rocks, some pretty swirly patterns emerge. These are flat layers that take on a stacked wedding-cake appearance on an outcrop elongated by the wind. The direction of the stacks indicates […]
July 26, 2012

And then the wind swept through

A piece of Mars: Wind streaks are a common sight on Mars. They are formed either by the wind blowing stuff away or blowing stuff in, and it can be quite difficult to tell which is which. In this case, […]
July 16, 2012

Patch of blue

A piece of Mars: Most of the image, stretching beyond the edges of this frame, shows a bland gray landscape of lava blanketed in dust. But one small patch of blue shows where sand is still actively moving and piling […]
July 14, 2012

Barely a dune

A piece of Mars: What makes a dune different from a random pile of sand? Usually the requirement is that it has a “slipface”, a steep avalanching slope. The central dune in the image here has a small one, making […]
July 11, 2012

Wrapping around

A piece of Mars: Dunes near the north pole of Mars form in a very cold environment. Winter ice continually tries to stop them in their tracks, which makes for unusually rounded dunes like these. (HiRISE ESP_027451_2635)
July 10, 2012

An intriguing mess

A piece of Mars: What an intriguing mess this is. These are dunes or ripples, oriented every which way, and mottled with white spots. The different orientations tell us that the winds blow from several different directions, on timescales long […]