NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this intriguing view of “corduroy” sand dunes rippling across the permanent polar cap of Mars. The dunes “march across a fabric of patterned ground,” according to a NASA caption that explains “at this time of the Martian year the dunes are free of the seasonal dry ie that forms a temporary cover every winter.” Launched in 2005, the MRO braked into orbit around the red planet in 2006 to study the history and distribution of water. Its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, which took the image seen here, is one of the most powerful cameras ever launched aboard a planetary spacecraft.
Find a location that offers you an unobstructed view of the horizon from south to southwest an hour after sunset. With clear skies, you’ll be able to follow Venus and Mars from night to night on their celestial peregrinations through the constellations of Sagittarius and Capricornus. The two planets almost keep pace with each other throughout the remainder of November.
In late November and early December 2015, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission made a series of close approaches to the Martian moon Phobos. Among the data returned were spectral images of Phobos in the ultraviolet. The images will allow MAVEN scientists to better assess the composition of this enigmatic object, whose origin is unknown.