Richardson Crater is home to this sea of sand dunes. It was fall in the Southern hemisphere when NASA's MRO acquired this image of the dunes frosted with the first bit of carbon dioxide ice condensed from the atmosphere.
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Fall Frosting

Richardson Crater is home to this sea of sand dunes. It was fall in the Southern hemisphere when this image was acquired and the dunes are frosted with the first bit of carbon dioxide ice condensed from the atmosphere.

As the season turns to winter ice will cover the entire dune field. At this moment however, it is patchy, and in the frost does not yet coat the ground beneath the dunes. The ground under the dunes appears to be cut by spidery troughs termed "araneiform terrain", carved by carbon dioxide sublimation (turning from solid to gas) in the spring.

Though Mars may appear to be a frozen wonderland it is not frozen in time: the spring will bring lots of activity to this region.

HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates the orbiter's HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image details

ID#:
PIA17548

Date added:
2013-10-16

Target:
Mars

Mission:
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)

Spacecraft:
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)

Instruments:
High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE)

Rating:



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Full-Res TIFF:
PIA17548.tif (15.56 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA17548.jpg (0.89 MB)

Image credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona