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Mars Curiosity Rover Captures Images Of The Red Planet's Stunning Black Sand Dunes

First Posted: May 06, 2017 04:20 AM EDT

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has taken photos of the gorgeous black sand dunes on the Martian surface. The newly released images show a part of the Bagnold Dunes. It is a big black sand field that is located in Mount Sharp’s northwestern flank.

Incidentally, the rover studied four different sites in the Bagnold region from early February to early April this year. In 2015, the six-wheeled robot had arrived at a different area of Bagnold. Soon after, the rover began to study some crescent-shaped dunes, beginning the first close-up investigation of active extraterrestrial sand dunes. According to Space.com, researchers should be better able to understand how Martian winds sculpt dunes into different patterns and shapes with the help of Curiosity's recent work at the linear-dune site.

"At these linear dunes, the wind regime is more complicated than at the crescent dunes we studied earlier," California Institute of Technology’s Mathieu Lapotre said in a statement. "There seems to be more contribution from the wind coming down the mountain’s slope here compared with the crescent dunes farther north."

Curiosity is now moving away from this area, after collecting a sand sample from it. At present, the rover is making its way up Mount Sharp’s foothills that rise from the center of the Gale Crater.

Curiosity is analyzing the rock layers as it makes its climb. It is looking for clues about when and how Mars made the transition from being a comparatively wet and warm world billions of years ago to the dry and cold planet it is today.

The rover had landed inside the 154-kilometer-wide Gale Crater on Mars in August 2012 to determine whether the region could have once hosted microbial life. Curiosity soon found proof that Gale once had a potentially habitable lake-and-stream system for a long period in the ancient past.

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