Fact Check

Does a NASA Photo Show 'Blue Dunes' on Mars?

The picture was produced by Odyssey, the longest-serving space craft orbiting Mars.

Published Jul 24, 2021

Image Via NASA
A NASA photograph shoes actual blue-colored dunes on Mars.
What's True

NASA released a picture in April 2021 depicting dunes colored bright blue surrounded by the red surface of Mars.

What's False

The picture didn't show actual colors on Mars — the colors represented variance in temperature on the surface.

On April 8, 2021, NASA released a photograph that appeared to show bright, cerulean blue dunes surrounded by the red surface of Mars. The picture can be seen in the tweet posted by Space.com, a space and astronomy news website:

The picture is beautiful, but it doesn't show the actual colors on the surface of the Red Planet. NASA pointed out that the picture is a "false color image" that depicts temperature, not color.

"In this false-color image, areas with cooler temperatures are recorded in bluer tints, while warmer features are depicted in yellows and oranges. Thus, the dark, sun-warmed dunes glow with a golden color," per NASA.

Per Space.com, the picture was presented as part of a series marking the 20th anniversary of the Odyssey, the "longest-working Mars exploration craft in history." The picture is a "combination of images taken between December 2002 and November 2004 by the Thermal Emission Imaging System instrument on the Mars Odyssey orbiter."

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more

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