Panorama of the ‘Namib Dune’ on Mars
This view of the “Namib Dune” on Mars was taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover.
The image includes a portion of Mount Sharp on the horizon. The site is part of the dark-sand “Bagnold Dunes” field along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp.
Curiosity is exterminating the dunes along the rover’s route up the lower slope of Mount Sharp. NASA is trying to understand how wind moves and sorts grains of sand, in an environment with less gravity and much less atmosphere than well-studied dune fields on Earth.
The Bagnold Dunes are active. Images taken from orbit over the course of multiple years show that some of these dunes are move by as as a yard, or meter, per Earth year.
These are the first close look at active sand dunes anywhere other than Earth. The image was captured on Dec. 18, 2015. Also known as a sol, each Martian day is slightly longer than an Earth day, lasting for 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds.