Skip to main content

Waves on Mars? Sand Ripples in Striking Red Planet Photos

Mars Sand Ripples
The Mars Curiosity rover captured this image of ripples in the sand on the Red Planet. The image was taken by the rover's Navcam on Feb. 6, 2017. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech )

Waves of sand on the parched surface of Mars, spotted by NASA's Curiosity rover, are reminiscent of ripples on the surface of a lake.

While there may have once been lakes, rivers and oceans on the surface of Mars, today the Red Planet is more parched than the driest deserts on Earth. (However, very salty liquid water is thought to exist in a few places on Mars.)

But new images from the Curiosity rover, released today (Feb. 6), show windswept stretches of sand that look like waves cresting on a body of water. The repeating ripples create a hypnotic pattern that stretches across the baked landscape.

mars curiosity rover, mars surface, mars sand waves, mars water, mars images (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech )

Curiosity has been scuttling around on the surface of Mars since August of 2012. In that time, the little robot has explored beautiful and treacherous landscapes, and sent back images of all kinds of interesting surface features, including massive sand dunes and rocky outcrops.

Ripples of sand stretch across the Martian landscape in this image from the Navcam on the Mars Curiosity rover, taken on Feb. 6, 2017. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech )

The rover's primary mission is to evaluate whether Mars may have once had an environment that could support life. In Curiosity's first two years on the surface, the rover found ample evidence that Mars once supported large bodies of water, a necessary ingredient for life as we know it.

Follow Calla Cofield @callacofield.Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: