Sand dunes are among the most widespread aeolian (wind-related) features present on Mars. Their shape and spatial distribution are sensitive to subtle shifts in wind circulation patterns and strengths. This relates to patterns of erosion and deposition, giving clues to the sedimentary history of the surrounding terrain.
Dunes are particularly suited to comprehensive planetary studies because they are abundant over a wide range of elevations and terrain types. A global scale study of Martian dunes serves a dual purpose in furthering understanding of both climatic and sedimentary processes– two fundamental topics currently driving Martian science.
This caption is based on the original science rationale.
Written by: HiRISE Science Team (14 September 2011)
More info and image formats at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_023145_1935
Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona