NASA on Monday released an image of sand dune similar to those found in the Namib Desert. The photos were taken by space agency's Curiosity Mars rover.
The pictures come a few months after Nasa announced its plans to discover the 'Windhoek Quadrant', named by scientists at the Geological Society of Namibia and at the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre to identify geological place names to use for features in this quadrant.
The dune pictures sent by Recovery were also given the name 'Namib Dune' by Nasa. The possible close encounter with the dune provided the ‘first up-close study ever conducted of extraterrestrial sand dunes’.
Curiosity has been working on Mars since early August 2012. The discovery is seen as quite significant for the fact that similar dunes can be found in Gobabeb which is an internationally recognised centre for dry land training and research in Namibia, is located in Namib Desert. And Gobabeb has a history of more than 50 years of research related to the Namib Desert, which includes dune formation.
Thus Gobabeb can thus serve as an analogous site for Mars studies. This study could potentially open up new collaborative opportunities for Nasa scientists and experts. Undoubtedly, only a geologist or a geomorphologist could answer that, if the dunes could be same.
However, some of rock samples that have been collected on Mars in the past seem to be similar to elements of the geology of the Namib like basalts and gypsum. It will be interesting to know that locations on earth like one in Namib Desert are now replicated in outer space.