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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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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA