This image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a dune field in a large crater near Mawrth Vallis; some of the dunes appear to be in 'V' formation.
Add image to your album
Email this page Post this page to your Facebook wall Tweet this page

Dunes Flying in Formation

Click here for larger version of PIA17981
Map Projected Browse Image
Click on the image for larger version

Migratory birds and military aircraft -- like during World War II -- often fly in a V-shaped formation. The "V" formation greatly boosts the efficiency and range of flying birds, because all except the first fly in the upward motion of air -- called upwash -- from the wingtip vortices of the bird ahead.

In this image of a dune field in a large crater near Mawrth Vallis, some of the dunes appear to be in formation. For dune fields, the spacing of individual dunes is a function of sand supply, wind speed, and topography.

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


Date added:


Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)

High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE)



Full-Res TIFF:
PIA17981.tif (15.56 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA17981.jpg (0.8 MB)

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