Panorama with Active Linear Dune in Gale Crater, MarsThis 360-degree mosaic from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover looks out over a portion of the Bagnold Dunes, which stretch for several miles. From early February to early April 2017, the rover examined four sites near linear dunes for comparison with what it found in late 2015 and early 2016 during its investigation of crescent-shaped dunes. This two-phase campaign is the first close-up study of active dunes anywhere other than Earth.
The dark, rippled surface of a linear dune is visible at the center of the view and receding into the distance to the left. The bedrock of the Murray formation, made from sediments deposited in lakes billions of years ago, is in the foreground, along with some components of the rover. The location, called "Ogunquit Beach," is on the northwestern flank of lower Mount Sharp.
Northwest is at both ends of this full-circle panorama; southeast is at the center, where a higher portion of Mount Sharp dominates the horizon. A portion of this panorama showing textural details of the dune and bedrock is at https://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/2017/textures-where-curiosity-rover-studied-a-martian-dune.
Among the questions this Martian dune campaign is addressing is how winds shape the dunes into different patterns. Others include whether Martian winds sort grains of sand in ways that affect the distribution of mineral compositions, which also would have implications for studies of Martian sandstones.
The 115 individual images that were combined into this mosaic were acquired by the Mastcam's left-eye camera on March 24 and March 25, 2017, (PST) during the 1,647th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars. This mosaic is white-balanced so that the colors of the colors of the rock and sand materials resemble how they would appear under daytime lighting conditions on Earth. The rover's position on Sol 1647 is shown at https://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/2017/curiositys-traverse-map-through-sol-1646 as the location reached by a drive on Sol 1646.
Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates the Mastcam. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover.
More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS