Exploring the Sandy Province of Herschel Crater

While perhaps not awe-inspiringly beautiful, sand sheets can tell us about Mars’ current and past environmental conditions as a piece of the puzzle for understanding habitability.

This view shows the downwind stretches of a sand sheet in central part of the much larger Herschel Crater. This sandy province began kilometers upwind in a string of barchan sand dunes. As the north-to-south blowing wind weakened downwind, it could no longer fashion the sand into dunes but rather into amorphously-shaped sand sheets.

Having dunes upwind of sheets is the opposite situation Earth has, where upwind sand sheets evolve downwind into sand dunes. This mystery is receiving ongoing research to to understand these sandy differences between Earth and Mars.

Written by: Kirby Runyon  (4 September 2017)

More info and image formats at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_050159_1655

Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona