NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows a typical southern mid-latitude surface at very high resolution. The smooth-surfaced material (mostly on the left and lower left sides of the image) erodes and breaks down into the knobby terrain (seen at the top and right). The exact cause of this degradation of smooth-surfaced material at middle latitudes is unknown. One speculation is that the materials are a mixture of water ice, dust, and silt; when the ice sublimes away, it leaves behind the knobby terrain. The image is located near 37.0°S, 84.0°W. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper left.
Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, California. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, California and Denver, Colorado.