The High Resolution Imaging Experiment camera (HiRise) of the probe Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)has captured this spectacular photograph of the surface of Marswhere you can see some incredible round dunes.
In many ways, Mars resembles some deserts on Earth, not too alien to us. But pictures like these round dunesThey show that we are on another planet. Why do they have that shape? The truth is that it is not easy to explain.
The MRO probe has been orbiting the planet since 2005, at about 300 kilometers high. His main mission, locating landing zones for future missions, and helping with broadcasts, ended in 2010, so now he is dedicated to study the climate of mars. And the dunes They are a very interesting way to do it.
The round dunes of Mars
photographing the dunes throughout the whole martian yearwhich lasts 668 days, aspects such as the speed and direction of the windand the ice formation during the winter.
As Space.com explains, the dunes on mars They have very different shapes. But the round dunes they are very unusual. According to the University of Arizona, which is running the camera, they have a slight asymmetry to the south, so the wind blows that way:
The fact that they are round is due to a combination of causes. From the wind itself, to the thin atmosphere and different gravity of Mars, with respect to Earth. Besides in winter they are covered by a layer of iceas can be seen in the opening photo of the news.
Each pixel in the image equals about 25 centimeters, so they are dunes huge of several hundred meters. They move at a speed of 1 meter per Martian year. The photo was taken from a height of 300 kilometers, on November 22.
The HiRise camera it is also investigating glacier-like formations all over Mars and examining the rift-like fractures that dot their surfaces.
As we can see, not only ground vehicles such as the Perseverance rover study the Red planet. He MRO orbiter It is the fourth artificial satellite of Mars, along with Mars Express, Mars Odyssey and Mars Global Surveyor. The photographs of the round dunes are one of his greatest achievements.