Exploring the Sandy 

Province of Herschel Crater

Crater on Mars
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.
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.
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.
The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
Last Updated: Sept. 5, 2017
Editor: Tony Greicius