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This is a picture of the Rover atop the Mermaid Dune.
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JPL/NASA

The Mermaid Dune

During the Mars Pathfinder Rover's exploration of the Martian surface, it traversed what scientists now call the "Mermaid Dune", covered with soils. The soil on top of Mermaid Dune seemed to have a dark gray component, indicating a possible basalt origin. Evidence of the existence of basalt would help scientists figure out part of the early volcanic history of Mars. However, when the Rover crossed the dune, it disturbed the soil and exposed a dark red soil underneath. A picture of the disturbed soil is shown here. Study of these dunes and soils contributed to an understanding of weathering processes on Mars.

There are many portions of Mars covered by equal-sloped, dune-like ridges which are oriented transverse to the wind direction, including gaint sand dunes at the south polar region. These dunes consist of particles placed in motion by the mechanism of saltation, then picked up and carried around the globe in global dust storms.


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