Astrogeology Science Center

Sand dunes are among the most widespread aeolian features present on Mars, serving as unique indicators of the interaction between the atmosphere and surface. On a planetary body, dunes accumulate where a supply of sand-sized grains exists or may be abraded, is carried downwind by winds of saltation strength, and is subsequently deposited where these winds weaken below the threshold for sand transport. As a result, the study of dune processes contributes to both atmospheric and sedimentary science. Both the presence and morphology of sand dunes are sensitive to subtle shifts in wind circulation patterns and wind strengths, which are thought to be influenced by changes in Martian orbital parameters. The spatial distribution of aeolian sand relates to patterns of sedimentary deposition and erosion of source materials, giving clues to the sedimentary history of the surrounding terrain. Dunes are particularly suited to comprehensive planetary studies in part because they are abundant on the Martian surface over a wide range of elevations and terrain types, and in part because they are large enough to be studied using the wide suite of spacecraft data now available. Thus a global scale study of Martian dunes serves a dual purpose in furthering understanding of both climatic and sedimentary processes, two fundamental topics currently driving Martian science.

See Also

K-12 Educational Resources

Astronomy for Kids
"The Universe is a place that is vast beyond imagining, and what we will try to do is help you understand a little more about it. There are several sections to the site, but none of them takes a terribly long time to read, and all of them should be easily understood by kids of all ages. Grownups are welcome, too, as long as they promise to behave."
ASU Mars Education Program
A good source for materials and other resources for educators.
ASU Mars Student Imaging Project (MSIP)
If you are at least a 5th grader, Get Involved with active Mars missions.
JPL's Mars Education Program
"Join us on a journey of exploration and discovery as NASA embarks on a 10 year study of the red planet Mars! This site is intended to be useful to students, their teachers, informal education professionals and the general public."
Mars Exploration: Fun Zone!
Games and activities for kids of many different ages. Lots of fun, but requires Flash Player (you probably have this).
Mars Exploration: Mars for Students
Homework help, Create a colony on Mars, Talk to scientists, Build a Mars spacecraft, See space in detail without a telescope, and much more.
Space and Science Study Guide
Astronomy takes a close look at the planets, stars, comets, meteors, and other objects found in outer space.
Space Today - Exploring Mars
"A New Era of Red Planet Exploration: What We Know About Mars And How We Know It." A good source of information on both the planet Mars and Mars exploration.
StarDate-Online: Mars
"StarDate is the public education and outreach arm of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory. Our English and Spanish radio programs air daily on more than 500 stations. And our popular bimonthly astronomy magazine is the perfect skywatching companion for amateur astronomers or anyone interested in celestial events and space exploration. We also offer astronomy resources to teachers, the media, and the public."

Consortium Links