The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Spots Mesmerizing Blue Sand Dunes on the Red Planet

Blue sand dunes in a crater on Mars

The blue sand dunes are made from a different sand than the others around them

Whenever you think of Mars, you probably associate it with the color red. However, a recent image taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) revealed the planet’s surface is painted in other colors as well. The picture illustrates a blue sand dune spreading across Lyot Crater.

MRO spotted blue sand dunes on Mars

It’s not uncommon that Mars has many sand dunes on its surface. Most of them are hiding at the bottom of craters, so NASA has decided to take a better look at them. While sifting through MRO’s images, they spotted something interesting inside Lyot Crater.

At the bottom of this crater, there is a field of dunes where most of the sand appears grey. However, one blue sand dune stood out with its different color. Researchers took a better look at it, and saw it actually had finer sand than all the other surrounding dunes.

The surface of Mars is quite colorful and rich in shapes

This blue sand dune, together with all the other dunes on Mars, do not look like the formations we have on Earth. They are shaped like crescents, or classic barchans, which we don’t see too often on our planet. However, they all still have something in common. Both the Earth and the Martian dunes have formed in the same way, under the action of wind.

Since 2005, the MRO has explored a big part of the surface of Mars, regularly sending back all kinds of images. They show Mars is far from being a red-only planet, as it contains different shapes colored in the most beautiful shades. The planet hosts multiple phenomena that shape its surface in interesting shapes of all colors.

Of course, these phenomena are more intense and occur more often than on Earth. This is due to the special conditions on the planet that make it more vulnerable. For instance, its atmosphere is about 100 times thinner than that of Earth, and its surface reaches temperatures of minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Image source: Flickr

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