Our topic for the weeks of April 4 and April 11 is dunes on Mars. We will look at the north polar sand sea and at isolated dune fields at lower latitudes. Sand seas on Earth are often called "ergs," an Arabic name for dune field. A sand sea differs from a dune field in two ways: 1) a sand sea has a large regional extent, and 2) the individual dunes are large in size and complex in form.
This VIS image was taken at 81 degrees North latitude during Northern spring. In this region, the dunes are isolated from each other. The dunes are just starting to emerge from the winter frost covering appearing dark with bright crests. These dunes are located on top of ice.
Image information: VIS instrument. Latitude 82.1, Longitude 191.3 East (168.7 West). 19 meter/pixel resolution.
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.