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Ripples or Dunes?

This approximate true-color image taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit's panoramic camera shows the windblown waves of soil that characterize the rocky surface of Gusev Crater, Mars. Scientists were puzzled about whether these geologic features were "ripples" or "dunes." Ripples are shaped by gentle winds that deposit coarse grains on the tops or crests of the waves. Dunes are carved by faster winds and contain a more uniform distribution of material. Images taken of these features by the rover's microscopic imager on the 41st martian sol, or day, of the rover's mission revealed their identity to be ripples. This information helps scientists better understand the winds that shape the landscape of Mars. This image was taken early in Spirit's mission.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell

Posted by at February 29, 2004 8:43 PM

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