NASA recently released the surprising and breathtaking image of a blue sand dune that was found cradled in the Lyot Crater region of Mars which was captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
As Fox reports, the image was enhanced by NASA to give viewers a closer glimpse of the surface of Mars. In a statement by NASA, they explain that the image “shows a field of classic barchan dunes on Jan. 24, 2018.”
NASA notes that it is quite common for craters to have sand dunes that accumulate inside of them and that this particular blue dune is composed of finer material than other areas around it inside of the Lyot Crater.
“Just to the south of the group of barchan dunes is one large dune with a more complex structure. This particular dune, appearing like turquoise blue in enhanced color, is made of finer material and/or has a different composition than the surrounding.”
Mars has been lovingly referred to as the Red Planet and for good reason, so it’s important to remember that the beautiful azure color that people are seeing isn’t really there, and that enhancing the dune by giving it a blue hue was the best way for NASA to show viewers that the material in the Lyot Crater is of a much different variety than elsewhere on the planet.
Once in a blue dune…On the floor of the Lyot Crater on Mars lies a field of dunes. One particular dune, seen in this January view, appears turquoise blue in enhanced color & is made of a different composition than the surrounding dune field. Take a look: https://t.co/zeVqWJHO1i pic.twitter.com/PlMNFI4VQr— NASA (@NASA) June 21, 2018
The recent photo of the blue dune on Mars by NASA is markedly different from other photos of the planet, even when not taking into account the color enhancement that was performed on it. For instance, many images display ice scattered across dunes. However, with the arrival of Spring, many of these icy features are changing with the arrival of more sunlight.
Seasons on Mars are quite different than ours here on Earth as the ice and snow that can be spotted on the northern hemisphere of Mars is made up of carbon dioxide rather than water. As dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide, once the sun hits it this creates beautiful patterns that can be seen scattered across the surface of the Red Planet.
While NASA officials are currently uncertain as to what has caused the different material to accumulate in the Lyot Crater of Mars, with the recent image of the blue dune they will be examining this thoroughly to better understand its composition.