List of extraterrestrial dune fields

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These might look like trees on Mars, but they're not. Groups of dark brown streaks have been photographed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on melting pinkish sand dunes covered with light frost. The image was taken near the North Pole of Mars, spring 2010. Objects about 25 centimetres across are resolved on this image, which is about one kilometre wide. Close ups of some parts of this image show billowing plumes indicating that the sand slides were occurring at the time of the photo; see center left.

This is a list of dune fields not on Earth which have been given official names by the International Astronomical Union. Dune fields are named according to the IAU's rules of planetary nomenclature. The relevant descriptor term is undae. As of now, the only two solar system planets, besides Earth, with named dune fields are Venus and Mars. Dune fields have also been discovered on Saturn's moon Titan,[1] and a field of giant ripples has been identified on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.[2]


There are three officially named dune fields on Venus. They are named after desert goddesses, as per the IAU's rules. They are listed below.


Dunes in Abalos Undae, Mars appear blueish due to basalt, while the reddish-white areas may be dust.

There are six officially named dune fields on Mars, which are named after nearby classical albedo features in accordance with the IAU's rules. Five of them lie between 75°N to 85°N, between Planum Boreum and Vastitas Borealis. These dune fields span over 200 degrees of longitude. The sixth, Ogygis Undae, lies on the southern hemisphere of Mars. They are listed below.

Unofficial field names[edit]

Namib sand dune (downwind side) on Mars
(Curiosity rover; 17 December 2015).
  • Namib Undae
  • Bagnold dune field, Gale crater. This dune field was explored by Curiosity between initially between mission Sols ~1174–1248, where the rover investigated High dune, and Namib dune. Three orders of bedform were identified: wind ripple, large ripple (or wind drag ripple[4]) and dune.[5] Sand grains in this section of the dune field had a modal grain size of 120 μm[6]
  • As part of the Mars Exploration Rover mission, a small dune field unofficially named El Dorado on the south side of Husband Hill in Gusev crater was investigated by the Spirit rover from sols 706 to 710.[7] Analysis of El Dorado showed that it consists of black wind-blown sand which is "well-sorted, well-rounded and olivine rich.[8]
Detail of the dunes of the Hagal Dune Field


There are five officially named dune fields on Titan, which are named after Greek gods, goddesses or personifications of wind. They are listed below:[9]

Literature also uses names of dark albedo features when referring to Titan's dune fields:


  1. ^ "Titan's Seas Are Sand". Archived from the original on 29 September 2006. Retrieved 21 November 2006.
  2. ^ Jia, P.; B. Andreotti; P. Claudin (March 2017). "Giant ripples on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko sculpted by sunset thermal wind" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (10): 2509–2514. arXiv:1703.02592. Bibcode:2017PNAS..114.2509J. doi:10.1073/pnas.1612176114.
  3. ^ "USGS Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature: Abalos Undae". Retrieved 8 August 2007.
  4. ^ Lapotre, M. G. A.; Ewing, R. C.; Lamb, M. P.; Fischer, W. W.; Grotzinger, J. P.; Rubin, D. M.; Lewis, K. W.; Ballard, M. J.; Day, M. (1 July 2016). "Large wind ripples on Mars: A record of atmospheric evolution". Science. 353 (6294): 55–58. Bibcode:2016Sci...353...55L. doi:10.1126/science.aaf3206. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 27365444.
  5. ^ Ewing, R. C.; Lapotre, M. G. A.; Lewis, K. W.; Day, M.; Stein, N.; Rubin, D. M.; Sullivan, R.; Banham, S.; Lamb, M. P. (2017). "Sedimentary processes of the Bagnold Dunes: Implications for the eolian rock record of Mars". Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. 122 (12): 2544–2573. Bibcode:2017JGRE..122.2544E. doi:10.1002/2017je005324. ISSN 2169-9097. PMC 5815379. PMID 29497590.
  6. ^ Ehlmann, B. L.; Edgett, K. S.; Sutter, B.; Achilles, C. N.; Litvak, M. L.; Lapotre, M. G. A.; Sullivan, R.; Fraeman, A. A.; Arvidson, R. E. (2017). "Chemistry, mineralogy, and grain properties at Namib and High dunes, Bagnold dune field, Gale crater, Mars: A synthesis of Curiosity rover observations". Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. 122 (12): 2510–2543. Bibcode:2017JGRE..122.2510E. doi:10.1002/2017je005267. ISSN 2169-9097. PMC 5815393. PMID 29497589.
  7. ^ "Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Spirit Descends Husband Hill as Opportunity Works at a Standstill on Olympia". Retrieved 21 November 2006.
  8. ^ "Recent results from the Spirit rover at Gusev crater" (PDF). Retrieved 21 November 2006.
  9. ^ "USGS Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature: Search: TITAN: Unda, undae". Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Arnold, K.; J. Radebaugh; C. J. Savage; E.P. Turtle; R.D. Lorenz; E.R. Stofan; A. Le-Gall & the Cassini Radar Team. "Areas of Sand Seas on Titan from Cassini Radar and ISS: Fensal and Aztlan" (PDF). 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, March 7–11, 2011 at The Woodlands, Texas. LPI Contribution No. 1608. Lunar and Planetary Institute. p. 2804.
  11. ^ a b Le Gall, A.; M.A. Janssen; L.C. Wye; J. Radebaugh; R.D. Lorenz & the Cassini Radar Team (September 2010). "Regional variations among Titan's dunes: Belet versus Fensal dune fields" (PDF). European Planetary Science Congress 2010 Abstracts. 5: 247.

A large portion of this article was sourced from the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature, the official IAU database of planetary names.

  • Ralph Lorenz; James Zimbelman (2014). Dune Worlds: How Wind-blown Sand Shapes Planetary Landscapes. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-89724-8.