NASA releases striking image of blue sand dune on Mars

NASA released an eye-popping image of a blue sand dune on the red planet, which was taken by the space agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in late January.

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The photo of the turquoise-hued dune was taken in the Lyot Crater region on Mars. The dune has a "more complex structure" than a group of barchan dunes to the south of it, NASA officials said in a press release. A barchan dune is a crescent-shaped dune with the convex side facing the direction of the wind.

Finding dunes in the crater itself is not unusual because dunes often accumulate on the floors of craters, but the enhanced color of the dune is stunning since most photos of the red planet show colors ranging from red to shades of orange and brown.

"This particular dune, appearing like turquoise blue in enhanced color, is made of finer material and/or has a different composition than the surrounding" dunes, agency officials said.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is managed by the University of Arizona, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena manages the Mars Reconnaissance Project.

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