How does the wind blow on Mars? It sounds like a simple question, but scientists are still learning a lot about how that happens. With few meteorological stations on the surface, one of the best
indicators is observing sand dunes from orbit
-- vast formations that march across the Martian surface, sometimes as much as several feet per year.
In recent months,
Curiosity has been maneuvering
for an unprecedented close-up look at these dunes to see, in great detail, how the grains of sand shift. Scientists are trying to figure out mysteries such as why ripples appear larger on some Martian dunes than Earth ones, and why they're of a different texture. Read on to explore some of the most recent findings and past observations of Mars' mysterious dunes.
PHOTOS: Curiosity Plays in Sandy Martian Dunes
Image: This observation was imaged by Curiosity's front Hazard Avoidance Camera (Hazcam) on Sol 1184 (Dec. 5) as it carried out a closeup investigation of dunes on the slopes of Mount Sharp.