Monitoring Sand Sheets and Dunes

This crater features sand dunes and sand sheets on its floor. What are sand sheets? Snow fall on Earth is a good example of sand sheets: when it snows, the ground gets blanketed with up to a few meters of snow. The snow mantles the ground and “mimics” the underlying topography. Sand sheets likewise mantle the ground as a relatively thin deposit.

This kind of environment has been monitored by HiRISE since 2007 to look for movement in the ripples covering the dunes and sheets. This is how scientists who study wind-blown sand can track the amount of sand moving through the area and possibly where the sand came from. Using the present environment is crucial to understanding the past: sand dunes, sheets, and ripples sometimes become preserved as sandstone and contain clues as to how they were deposited.

Written by: Kirby Runyon  (12 June 2017)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_050261_1165 .

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Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona