Mysterious textures

A piece of Mars: Dunes don’t usually have a rough surface texture like these do. It’s not clear what’s going on. Are they ancient dunes that are being eroded? What causes this particular texture? It seems unique to high elevations on Mars. Nobody knows yet. (HiRISE PSP_009448_1670, NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

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 up. As usual, it’s in the lee of a topographic feature. (HiRISE ESP_027002_1765)

When dunes die

A piece of Mars: This is what dunes look like when they die. At least on Mars. On Earth they typically get buried or eroded away. On Mars geology works slowly enough that the steep slopes of dunes are gradually reworked and pitted, and covered in fine layers of bright dust. (HiRISE PSP_005980_1085)

Dust and oddities

A piece of Mars: In the dustier regions of Mars, there are many small dark streaks on steep slopes that we don’t understand well. Because we don’t know much about them we call them “slope streaks”, which is not the most imaginative name. They are actively forming on Mars today, though, and seem to be

Sand, wind, and dust

A piece of Mars: This is what dunes look like in the deepest part of Mars, where the air is full of bright dust that constantly settles out onto everything. The wind helps to clear off the sand dunes (blue in this image) in two ways: one is by dust devils that leave crooked tracks