This image, located near 30E and 47.5S, displays sand dunes within Proctor Crater. These dunes are composed of basaltic sand that has collected in the bottom of the crater. The topographic depression of the crater forms a sand trap that prevents the sand from escaping. Dune fields are common in the bottoms of craters on Mars and appear as dark splotches that lean up against the downwind walls of the craters. Dunes are useful for studying both the geology and meteorology of Mars. The sand forms by erosion of larger rocks, but it is unclear when and where this erosion took place on Mars or how such large volumes of sand could be formed. The dunes also indicate the local wind directions by their morphology. In this case, there are few clear slipfaces that would indicate the downwind direction. The crests of the dunes also typically run north-south in the image. This dune form indicates that there are probably two prevailing wind directions that run east and west (left to right and right to left).
Note: this THEMIS visual image has not been radiometrically nor geometrically calibrated for this preliminary release. An empirical correction has been performed to remove instrumental effects. A linear shift has been applied in the cross-track and down-track direction to approximate spacecraft and planetary motion. Fully calibrated and geometrically projected images will be released through the Planetary Data System in accordance with Project policies at a later time.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) was developed by Arizona State University, Tempe, in collaboration with Raytheon Santa Barbara Remote Sensing. The THEMIS investigation is led by Dr. Philip Christensen at Arizona State University. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the Odyssey project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.