The dark features here look like raindrops, but are actually sand dunes in Copernicus Crater. This observation is from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
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Raindrops of Sand in Copernicus Crater

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The dark features here look like raindrops, but are actually sand dunes. This spot was targeted by CRISM because the dunes are rich in the mineral olivine.

Olivine-rich dunes are very rare on Earth, as olivine rapidly weathers to clays in a wet environment. There is also olivine-rich bedrock in the central peaks of Copernicus Crater on the Moon.

There is only a handful of very important scientists, like Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) who have craters named after them on both Mars and the Moon.

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#:
PIA17879

Date added:
2013-04-10

Target:
Mars

Mission:
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)

Spacecraft:
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)

Instruments:
High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE)

Rating:



Views:
191

Full-Res TIFF:
PIA17879.tif (14.75 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA17879.jpg (0.79 MB)

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