'High Dune' is First Martian Dune Studied up Close
The rippled surface of the first Martian sand dune ever studied up close fills this Nov. 27, 2015, view of "High Dune" from the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity rover. This site is part of the "Bagnold Dunes" field of active dark dunes along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Fast Facts:
-- Curiosity is using its wheels, as well as its science payload, to investigate sand that forms active dunes on Mars.
-- Plans call for the rover to scoop up and sieve sand for onboard laboratory analysis.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has begun an up-close investigation of dark sand dunes up to two stories tall. The dunes are on the rover's trek up the lower portion of a layered Martian mountain.

A view of the rippled surface of what's been informally named "High Dune" is online at:
http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7581

A wheel track exposing material beneath the surface of a sand sheet nearby is at:
http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7582

The dunes close to Curiosity's current location are part of "Bagnold Dunes," a band along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater. Observations of this dune field from orbit show that edges of individual dunes move as much as 3 feet (1 meter) per Earth year.

The rover's planned investigations include scooping a sample of the dune material for analysis with laboratory instruments inside Curiosity.

Curiosity has been working on Mars since early August 2012. It reached the base of Mount Sharp in 2014 after fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the mountain. The main mission objective now is to examine successively higher layers of Mount Sharp.

For more information about Curiosity, visit:
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl

  • The rippled surface of the first Martian sand dune ever studied up close fills this Nov. 27, 2015, view of "High Dune" from the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity rover. This site is part of the "Bagnold Dunes" field of active dark dunes along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp.

    The rippled surface of the first Martian sand dune ever studied up close fills this view of "High Dune" from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity rover. This site is part of the "Bagnold Dunes" field along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp. The dunes are active, migrating up to about one yard or meter per year.

    The component images...

    more
  • Ripples on Martian sand dunes show signs that wind moves them today, in NASA's first ever close-up view of active sand dunes, seen by Mars rover Curiosity.

    The rippled surface of the first Martian sand dune ever studied up close fills this view of "High Dune" from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity rover. This site is part of the "Bagnold Dunes" field along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp. The dunes are active, migrating up to about one yard or meter per year.

    The component images...

    more
  • NASA's Mars Curiosity rover looks down on its wheel track, revealing sand grains beneath the surface of a shallow, rippled sand dune.

    A wheel track left by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover exposes underlying material in a shallow sand sheet in this view from Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam). The site is close to a large sand dune of similarly dark sand grains.

    The component images of this mosaic view were taken on Dec. 2, 2015, during the 1,181st Martian day, or sol, of...

    more
  • In an up-close 1-inch-wide view, grains of sand near a Martian sand dune are imaged by the arm camera on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity Mars rover.

    This view shows grains of sand where NASA's Curiosity Mars rover was driven into a shallow sand sheet near a large dune. The disturbance by the wheel exposed interior material of the sand body, including finer sand grains than on the undisturbed surface. Sunlight is coming from the left.

    The scene covers an area 1.3 inches by 1.0 inch (3.3 by...

    more
  • This Dec. 5, 2015, view of the undisturbed surface of a Martian sand dune called "High Dune" shows coarse grains remaining on the surface after wind removal of smaller particles. The image covers an area 1.4 inches across. It was taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI).

    This view of the undisturbed surface of a Martian sand dune called "High Dune" visited by NASA's Curiosity rover shows coarse grains remaining on the surface after wind removal of smaller particles.

    The image covers an area 1.4 inches by 1.1 inches (3.6 by 2.7 centimeters). It was taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the rover's...

    more

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Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6278
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

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