18 March 2004 This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows a field of low-albedo (i.e., dark) sand dunes in a crater in Noachis Terra. Dunes on Earth are usually light while those on Mars are usually dark. This contrast results from a difference in the mineral composition. Earth dunes often contain abundant quartz, which appears light, while martian dunes typically contain minerals and rock fragments abundant in iron- and magnesium-rich minerals, which are usually dark. This dune field is located near 41.7S, 319.8W. The steeper slopes on these dunes, known as slip faces, point toward the lower left (southwest), indicating the dominant winds come from the northeast (upper right). This picture covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) across. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper left.


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