Categories: Mars

The Dark Dunes of Mars


I just got lost on Mars. I saw this intriguing image, above, on the HiRISE camera website, and ended up spending a large chunk of my morning just wandering through the dunes of Mars — actually wandering through images of dunes on Mars. These striking features have to be one of the most intriguing areas of study on the Red Planet since they are one of the most dynamic geologic processes going on currently on Mars.

The dark dunes are composed of basaltic sand, and scientists believe the dunes in the image above have formed in response to fall and winter westerly winds. Also superimposed on their surface are smaller secondary dunes that are commonly seen on terrestrial dunes of this size.

See below for more intriguing dunes on Mars that I came across in my wanderings…

North Polar Dunes. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.
Chocolate dunes? Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Dunes and Layered Bedrock on Floor of Large Crater in Xanthe Terra. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Seasonal Frost on Dunes. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Dune Symmetry. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Martian Barchan Dunes. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Falling Material Kicks Up Cloud of Dust on Dunes. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

We’ve posted this image before, as it really is a weird-looking landscape, but it is worth seeing again.

Polar Sand Dunes. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

See more on the HiRISE website!

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

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