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North Polar Escarpment Dune Field by NASA
North Polar Escarpment Dune Field by NASA

North Polar Escarpment Dune Field, 2014

NASA

Crowded dark ripples, like folded sand, dominate this image. At the edges, the folds break down into trickling streams, like paint drips on a Jackson Pollock canvas. Lighter-colored areas beneath the darker layer emerge at right, and below: a complicated surface of stacked, paper-thin, seemingly random shapes. Aeolian geology is the study of landforms formed by wind (Aeolus is the wind god in Greek mythology). This image shows aeolian activity on Mars; it’s the most dynamic, and visible geologic process on the planet. Mars orbiters have observed other formations whose names form a poetic vocabulary of wind: ripples, yardangs, wind tails, and dust devil tracks.

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Credit
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
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