Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Exhuming Platy Plains

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-377, 31 May 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

The vast plains of Mars located south of Cerberus and the Elysium volcanoes have a platy, textured surface thought to have formed by floods of thick mud or, more likely, very fluid lava. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows that the platy plain---which is the darker surface covering most of the northern two-thirds of this picture---is being exhumed from beneath a brighter material. The small ridges in the bright material are yardangs, a landform created by wind erosion. Wind is slowly eroding the bright material away, revealing the darker, platy surface below. This area is located near 4.3°N, 208.5°W. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the left/lower 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.

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