This leech-like sand dune on Mars is mesmerizing

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A large Martian sand dune looks like a leech. But that's not the only important thing about the image.

The photo taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter also shows heavily fractured ground beneath the sand dune and between those surrounding it.

The fractured surface could be shattered bedrock that's wind-and-erosion resistant—evidence of years and years of stress or changes in temperature.

Or it could be a layer of sediment once covered by liquid that dried up, causing multiple fissures to be created in the process; something like a giant mud pie left out to bake in the sun.

Beyond the leech-alluding headlines, NASA stresses there's learning potential from both the slug-like sand dune and the surface below.

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