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NASA orbiter captures snowy dunes on Mars

Dry ice lies across a series of dunes like a dusting of powdered sugar in this image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Spring comes calling on the red planet.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Ah, winter on Mars. Like on Earth, it's a time of shorter days, cooler temperatures and a buildup of ice and snow. But winter is inevitably trumped by the oncoming spring. A NASA image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows an intriguing glimpse at a series of Martian dunes covered with a dusting of carbon dioxide (dry ice) snow as spring visits the red planet. 

The increasing sun in the springtime creates changes in the landscape. "The ice on the smooth surface of the dune cracks and escaping gas carries dark sand out from the dune below," NASA says

These dunes are located in the planet's northern hemisphere. The MRO snapped this image in late May and NASA highlighted it on Thursday as part of its Image of the Day series. The spacecraft has a knack for picking up fascinating views of dry ice on Mars. Check out this 2016 look at exotic formations at Mars' south pole.