Status Report

NASA Mars Picture of the Day: Windblown Dunes and Ripples

By SpaceRef Editor
July 4, 2003
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Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera
MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-411, 4 July 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

July 4, 2003, is the 6th anniversary of the Mars Pathfinder landing. One of the elements carried to the red planet by Pathfinder was the Wind Sock Experiment. This project was designed to measure wind activity by taking pictures of three aluminum “wind socks”. While the winds at the Mars Pathfinder site did not blow particularly strong during the course of that mission, dust storms seen from orbit and Earth-based telescopes attest to the fact that wind is a major force of change on the dry, desert surface of Mars today. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) narrow angle image shows dark sand dunes and lighter-toned ripples trapped among the mountainous central peak of an old impact crater in Terra Tyrrhena near 13.9°S, 246.7°W. The dune slip faces–the steepest slope on the larger dunes–indicate sand transport is from the top/upper left toward the bottom/lower right. North is toward the top/upper right; the picture is 3 km (1.9 mi) across. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper left. This picture was obtained in April 2003.

Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology
built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission.
MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, California.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Surveyor Operations Project
operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial
partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena,
California and Denver, Colorado.

SpaceRef staff editor.