Mysterious blue dune spotted on Mars

June 25, 2018, 12:08 p.m.
NASA suspects this blue dune is made up of a finer material and/or has a different composition than the surrounding strata.
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The surface of Mars is dominated by hues of reds, browns and tans, but it turns out that the wind-swept color palette also includes striking shades of blue.

While surveying a portion of the massive Lyot crater, the deepest point in Mars' northern hemisphere, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter came across a field of crescent-shaped dunes called barchans. The standout, however, was a massive dune to the south of this crowd composed entirely of seemingly blue material.

According to NASA, the blue dune is "made of finer material and/or has a different composition than the surrounding."

You can check out the colorful beauty of Mars yourself from your own backyard in the coming weeks. In late July, the red planet (with just a hint of blue) will be the closer to Earth than it has been in 15 years, with less than 36 million miles separating the two planets.

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