Recently, the U.S space agency NASA released a breathtaking photo alongside a post titled “Blue Dunes on Red Planet”, on April 8, 2021. The picture shared an area of 30 kilometers, and the location on Mars is 172.1 degrees east longitude, 80.3 degrees north latitude. A sea of dark dunes, created by the wind, into long lines, and Mars’ northern polar cap can be seen. The Blue dunes cover an area as big as Texas. The image was taken by the infrared camera of the Thermal Emission Imaging System (Mars Odyssey orbiter).
One thing to be noticed in the photo is the vivid coloring seen throughout the dunes. As per an update from NASA, the different colors in this false-color image correspond with the dune’s varying temperatures. The orangey, yellow-ish dune signifies warmer temperatures and has massive coral reef energy. The blue areas seen in the lower left-hand corner of the image have cooler temperatures and resemble dreamy lagoons or snow blankets.
More details from NASA –
NASA, in another post, shared that the Mars Odyssey orbiter, which measures the surface temperature day and night. It helps the scientists in understanding what kind of sand, rock, or dust exist. In the course of a Martian day, based on how these materials heat up and cool down, its data reveals these materials’ presence. It also helps the scientists create a map of Mars and identify everything from sandstone to salts. According to NASA Odyssey’s deputy project scientist, “It’s hard to overstate how the THEMIS global map has filled gaps in our knowledge.”
The picture is the combination of images taken from the orbiter during Dec. 2002 and Nov. 2004. To celebrate the Odyssey’s 20th anniversary, it is just one of the historical collections of images compiled. On April 7, 2001, the Odyssey launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and it entered the Mars orbit that October. It remains in orbit 19-plus years later and is the longest-working Mars spacecraft in history.