back to article Curiosity Rover eyes Mars' creeping dunes

NASA's Curiosity rover has delivered a fine panoramic postcard of a Martian sand dune, snapped as the trundling explorer ascends the Red Planet's Mount Sharp. The full dune panorama as snapped by Curiosity A distant Mount Sharp rises above the Namib Dune. Pic: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS (big version here) The four-metre-high " …

  1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Stunning images again

    Great work by all involved!

  2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    any chance

    of a time-lapse video of that dune action? I bet it's fascinating to watch.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: any chance

      I think they spotted the movement from orbital images over a period of time. Would make a great time-lapse, for sure.

      1. ratfox
        1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

          Thank you, ratfox

          That was every bit as cool as I thought it would be - had no idea about the "moaning" of the sands. Now we just need to politely ask Sir David to narrate a similar NASA vid of the Martian dunes.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: any chance

        I think they spotted the movement from orbital images over a period of time. Would make a great time-lapse, for sure.

        Wow. Commentards and Regtards queuing up to watch sand blown by the wind.

        I'm planning to do some painting soon, if you'd like to come round and watch that dry?

        1. JoshOvki

          Re: any chance

          If your house is in Mars count me in!

        2. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: Re: any chance

          Matt or gloss?

          1. a pressbutton

            Re: The future...

            nah, luke

            much more interesting

        3. Richard Altmann

          Re: any chance

          sand it down

        4. ravenviz

          Re: any chance

          Sorry can't make it, I'm keeping an eye on the lawn.

    2. Zog_but_not_the_first

      Re: any chance

      The chances of anything coming from Mars...

  3. Stevie Silver badge


    Stunning images indeed, but rather less inspiring science going on. Think how much time this "sand grain sorting" project would get in the press if we had a team of humans on planet.


    Gotta dream.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      "Stunning images indeed, but rather less inspiring science going on. "

      Personally the images themselves are worth it for me. I'd have been even happier if they'd sent a probe to a more photogenic place such as the Valles Marinas or the Helles Basin even if the science was slightly less interesting (though I doubt it would be). Geology is all well and good, but its not the reason most people are interested in planetary exploration.

    2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

      Re: Bah!

      I'd rather we didn't, to be honest, unless there's a serious immediate benefit to doing so. It's very expensive to get there, it's basically going to be shots of a lot of rocks, and most importantly whoever is sent will die out there. Satellites and robots are increasingly cheaper and easier to land.

      When there's a chance of the crew surviving, and not having decades knocked off their life expectancy it'll be a better idea.

      1. Kaltern

        Re: Bah!

        I'm glad we have people like you, making sure we look after other people's money and well being, keeping us firmly grounded.

        I imagine you do a lot of thinking about the children too?

        1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

          Re: Bah!

          odfo dear. There is a difference between legislating against something that might, in a blue moon, possibly affect a particularly unfortunate and stupid child, and something that is definitely extremely expensive, will certainly take money away from other spacecraft, and almost certainly won't allow the astronauts to return home.

          I'd like more spacecraft on comets, planetary moons, solar exploration - it's gathered new and exciting science across many environments, rather than limiting it to Mars.

          1. Glen 1 Silver badge

            Re: Bah!

            "odfo dear..."

            You are Sarah Bee, and I claim my £5

      2. Captain DaFt

        Re: Bah!

        "most importantly whoever is sent will die out there."

        If it's a choice of dying forty years from now in a nursing home, dribbling and pissing myself, or dying in twenty years* on a far off world, after spending my time being a pioneer and living the adventure of a lifetime; Well, I know which I'd choose!

        *Shit, I'd still go, even if I lived less than ten.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'd have thought the much lower gravity would have allowed much steeper gradients to form with sand until a landslide occurs but that doesn't seem to be the case. Unless I'm getting confused with the perspective.

    1. JimmyPage
      Thumb Up

      Re: Curious

      and it's exactly why actually going places and doing stuff is so good for science. Either the science underpinning your expectations is wrong or incomplete (in which case we need to know more), or your application of current science wrong or incomplete (which is also good, since mistakes can be highly informative).

    2. Charles Manning

      Re: Curious

      "I'd have thought the much lower gravity would have allowed much steeper gradients to form"

      Nope. It is the gravity that creates the forces that lock the particles together. More gravity means the particles lock together more strongly and thus less prone to landslides.

      To an extent you can observe this by looking at sand in water where the buoyancy created by the water reduces the weight of the sand and allows it to flow more easily. Of course the water itself has lubricating properties too, so it's not an apples-to-apples comparison.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You expect to the Worms of Arakas appear at any moment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I hope it rolls without rhythm

    2. kyza

      *cough* Arrakis

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wheel Damage

    I recall reading, some time ago, that Curiosity's wheels didn't seem to be holding up as well as planned, and seemed to be receiving a lot more damage than expected, but that middle wheel looks totalled.

    1. Raphael

      Re: Wheel Damage

      looking at a hi re copy, you are correct, it looks pretty munted (8.3 MB)

    2. Keven E

      Re: Wheel Damage

      "...that Curiosity's wheels didn't seem to be holding up as well as planned, and seemed to be receiving a lot more damage than expected..."

      Hasn't it been operating 2+ years-ish longer than expected?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Wheel Damage

        It's a heavy old machine too.

        It's all good though, information from those wheels will be used to make the next wheels.

  7. Blipvert

    Coach & Horses

    Has this been filmed in LAGER-O-VISION?

  8. Mike Bell

    Plucky rover is well stuck in

    Plucky is an obligatory description. Don't forget it.

  9. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Almost as exciting ....

    ... as watching grass grow.

    On the other hand, if Curiosity spots that, it would be worth a photo.

    1. harmjschoonhoven
      IT Angle

      Re: Almost as exciting ....

      An interesting simulation of moving dunes is Zhang's sandpile model.

      Reminds me to upload a compilation to YouTube.

  10. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Sand boarding/surfing!

    Did Curiosity pack a board?

    And some shorts?

  11. Martin Budden Silver badge

    horizontal cracks

    What's with the horizontal cracks in the dune face? Something must be helping the particles stick/clump together otherwise the cracks would immediately fill in.

  12. TheProf Silver badge

    Oh wow

    I think your rover has melted, dude.

  13. Flakey

    Was this directed... Ridley Scott by any chance?

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