Crescents and ripples

A piece of Mars: A lonely dune slowly makes its way (towards the upper right) across a plain. Well, look closer, it’s not all that lonely. Surrounding it on the plain are smaller streaks that are ripples, which also once worked their way across this plain. The smaller ripples are thought to be inactive, or

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 it a type of dune called a barchan. The other dunes are called “dome dunes”,

One perfect barchan on Mars

A piece of Mars: In nature most dunes pile on one another or strongly influence each other. But occasionally, like a perfect flower or crystal, you find a perfectly shaped dune. Here is a crescentic dune, called a “barchan”, formed by winds moving from right to left. (HiRISE PSP_007676_1385, NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona)