13 Amazing Pictures of Dunes from Space

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Image: NASA

You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a close-up image of reptilian skin, or even the tissue of some gruesomely infected body part. You might, then, be surprised to find out that it is, in fact, an image of Martian polar sand dunes. The white is frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice) and the darker flecks are composed of basaltic sand. During Martian spring the ice sublimates (meaning it turns directly to gas without ever melting into liquid), which brings some of this dark sand up to lie on the surface of the ice. Scientists believe that these deposits formed at the same time, due to the fact that they’re all in similar shapes and directions.


Image: NASA

This stunning image of the Victoria Crater shows that beauty can even be created by a devastating cosmic event. The edge patterns are from debris falling from the sides into the crater and the neat pool of ripples in the center are sand dunes covering the floor.

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Image: NASA

Namibia has some of the highest and largest sand dunes in the world. This image from ASTER (the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) shows Northern Namibian dunes, which are often colored red, running in eerily-ordered patterns across the entire expanse.

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