This image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a small mesa, one of several surrounded by sand dunes in Noctis Labyrinthyus, NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has snapped a stunning new image of the surface of the red planet, showing a small mesa surrounded by sand dunes in the Noctis Labyrinthyus region, which is located in the western end of the Valles Marineris canyon system. The image was captured using the MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.

“Heavily eroded, with clusters of boulders and sand dunes on its surface, this layered mesa is probably comprised of sedimentary deposits that are being exhumed as it erodes,” NASA said in a statement accompanying the image. “The layers themselves are visible as faint bands along the lower left edge of the mesa.”

The MRO has been orbiting the red planet since 2006, and has beamed back striking photos of Mars to Earth every month. Most recently, on Tuesday, NASA released an image of Melas Basin taken by the orbiter showing layered deposits of sediments. The space agency said that the image, which shows a cluster of steeply inclined light-toned layers bounded above and below by “unconformities,” is indicative of a “break” during which erosion of pre-existing layers was taking place at a higher rate than deposition of new materials.

Last August, NASA published its largest dump of images captured by the MRO’s HiRise camera, releasing a cache of over 1,000 photos that show the Martian surface in all its glory — from dunes and craters to mountains and ice caps.

All the photos in the image dump were taken in May, when Mars experienced its equinox — a period during a planet’s orbit when the sun shines directly on its equator, lighting up both its poles. Coincidentally, as Alfred McEwen, the director of the Planetary Image Research Laboratory, explained to Popular Science at the time, the equinox overlapped with the period when Mars and the sun were on the opposite sides of Earth — a phenomenon that facilitates unobstructed communication between the MRO and ground control.

The entire collection of images captured so far by the HiRise camera can be viewed here.