Headlines > News > Clouds of Dust on Martian Dunes

Clouds of Dust on Martian Dunes

Written by Candy Hansen and published by Matt on Thu Jan 7, 2010 11:04 am via: HiRISE
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There is a vast region of sand dunes at high northern latitudes on Mars. In the winter, a layer of carbon dioxide ice covers the dunes, and in the spring as the sun warms the ice it evaporates. This is a very active process, and sand dislodged from the crests of the dunes cascades down, forming dark streaks.

Falling Material Kicks Up Cloud of Dust on Dunes. Credit: NASA/JPL

Falling Material Kicks Up Cloud of Dust on Dunes. Credit: NASA/JPL

In this image falling material has kicked up a small cloud of dust. The color of the ice surrounding adjacent streaks of material suggests that dust has settled on the ice at the bottom after similar events.

Also discernible in this image are polygonal cracks in the ice on the dunes (the cracks disappear when the ice is gone).

2 Comments
It looks like there are vertical structures of some sort on top of the dunes. Are these the "adjacent streaks of material" mentioned in the photo caption? Or are they the "Clouds of Dust kicked up by falling Material"? Or what...???
The dark streaks (with enough imagination they look like trees, especially as it's hard to see what's lowest and highest point of the dunes), is the sand dislodged from the crests of the dunes cascades down, forming these dark streaks.
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