NASA Captures Surreal 'Blue' Sand Dune Discovered Amidst the Red Dust of Mars

Wednesday, 27 June 2018 - 1:15PM
Space Imagery
Mars
NASA
Wednesday, 27 June 2018 - 1:15PM
NASA Captures Surreal 'Blue' Sand Dune Discovered Amidst the Red Dust of Mars
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Image Credit: NASA/JPL
The Hubble Telescope has captured some amazing images from space, but the new image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera looks like a piece of surrealist art, etched in sand: the photo seems to show a bright blue sand dune shaped like a ragged piece of cloth. Unfortunately, the dune isn't really blue—it's just a quirk of the infrared technology.



To the human eye, the dune would look like a featureless gray spatter on the Martian landscape, but by capturing three different images of the area and adjusting their color, the details of the dune begin to come into sharper focus. The striking blue color is a result of the process, which is meant to enhance contrast.

In addition to the photo, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory released this text: "Sand dunes often accumulate in the floors of craters. In this region of Lyot Crater NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shows a field of classic barchan dunes. Just to the south of the group of barchan dunes is one large dune with a more complex structure. This particular dune, appearing like turquoise blue in enhanced color (false color), is made of finer material and/or has a different composition than the [surroundings]."

Though Mars is primarily a dusty, barren desert these days, new research has revealed that the planet was once hospitable to life—even if it was covered in giant ice sheets.



If you want more amazing photos of the Red Planet, check out some of these images taken by the Opportunity rover, which was originally intended to carry out a 90-day mission but has continued exploring Mars for the past fourteen years. Or, if you like the strangely surreal aesthetic of the dune photo, check out another image captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: a set of awesome-looking gullies in the Matara crater.
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