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A dominant driver of surface processes on Mars today is aeolian (wind) activity. In many cases, sediment from this activity is trapped in low-lying areas, such as craters. Aeolian features in the form of dunes and ripples can occur in many places on Mars depending upon regional wind regimes.
The Cerberus Fossae are a series of discontinuous fissures along dusty plains in the southeastern region of Elysium Planitia. This rift zone is thought to be the result of combined volcano-tectonic processes. Dark sediment has accumulated in areas along the floor of these fissures as well as inactive ripple-like aeolian bedforms known as "transverse aeolian ridges" (TAR).
Viewed through HiRISE infrared color, the basaltic sand lining the fissures' floor stands out as deep blue against the light-toned dust covering the region. This, along with the linearity of the fissures and the wave-like appearance of the TAR, give the viewer an impression of a river cutting through the Martian plains. However, this river of sand does not appear to be flowing. Analyses of annual monitoring images of this region have not detected aeolian activity in the form of ripple migration thus far.
The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, 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 NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.