NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has captured stunning images of almost perfectly round sand dunes on the surface of the Red Planet. While sand dunes of all shapes and sizes are common on Mars, circular dunes like these are a rare sight.
The dunes appear as slightly asymmetrical splodges in the picture, which was taken on Nov. 22, 2022, in Mars’ northern hemisphere by the University of Arizona’s High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRise) camera. The steep sides of the dunes are slanted southward, which might be due to Martian winds blowing the sand in that direction, planetary scientists at the university said in a statement. They are unsure what caused the dunes to be so near-perfectly circular, however.
The image is part of a series taken by HiRise to help monitor how frost melts on Mars at 60 different locations as the northern hemisphere of the planet reaches the end of its winter season. Like Earth, Mars experiences a cycle of the 4 seasons of summer, spring, fall and winter. While the round sand dunes appear ice-free in this picture, a previous image showed them covered in frost.
“Writer Fuel” is a series of cool real-world stories that might inspire your little writer heart. Check out our Writer Fuel page on the LimFic blog for more inspiration.