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These Mars sand dunes look like a bunch of worms

A fresh look at the Martian landscape shows a collection of wormy-looking curved dark sand dunes.

marsdunes.jpg
You won't find these in your compost bin.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Not to be outdone by Pluto's space slug formation, Mars is offering up its own oddball landscape features in a NASA photo showing a series of sand dunes. The dunes might look like a herd of wriggling worms, but their curved shapes come from exposure to wind.

NASA released the image, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, on Thursday. The crescent-shaped dunes are located in Mars' southern hemisphere. NASA notes these dune formations can occur in craters as well as in open plains.

The worm-like look in the photo is partly due to the direction of the sun. "Here, the steep, sunlit side of the dune, called a slip face, indicates the down-wind side of the dune and direction of its migration," NASA says.

Sometimes Mars looks like a lot like Earth. Sometimes it really shows just how different a planet it is.