Friday 9 December 2016

NASA shares incredible pictures of rippled sand dunes on the planet Mars

Sarah-Jane Murphy

Published 10/01/2016 | 18:01

The beautiful Namib sand dune on Mars
Credit:NASA
The beautiful Namib sand dune on Mars Credit:NASA
Downwind of the Namib sand dune Credit: NASA
Another shot of the sand dunes on Mars Credit: NASA

NASA has unveiled spectacular photographs of majestic sand dunes on planet Mars.

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It is the first chance scientists have had to examine active sand formations on any planet other than Earth.

The Curiosity Mars rover, NASA's car-sized reconnaissance robot, has been based on Mars' surface for more than three years now, and successfully captured the stunning images.

The photographs depict the enormous, segmented Namib dune which stands at a whopping 13 - 17 feet tall.

Another shot of the sand dunes on Mars
Credit: NASA
Another shot of the sand dunes on Mars Credit: NASA

Read More: Nasa axes next mission to Mars

"One of the first things they want to explore is the grain size and morphology of different parts of the slipface," Lauren Edgar, a member of the Curiosity team and a USGS Astrogeology Science Centre research geologist said.

Downwind of the Namib sand dune
Credit: NASA
Downwind of the Namib sand dune Credit: NASA

The ripples on the dunes change over time due to the prevailing winds on Mars.

After  short period of time, so much sand builds up that the sand at the bottom can’t sustain the weight of the sand on top, and a tiny avalanche occurs

Read More: British astronaut Tim Peake prepares to blast into orbit

The Namib sand dune is just one of many dunes located in the Bagnold Dunes field on the northwestern side of Mars.

It is situated very near to where Curiosity first touched down back in 2012.

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