NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Some of the most important high resolution imaging results of the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) experiment center on discoveries about the presence and nature of the sedimentary rock record on Mars. This old meteor impact crater in northwestern Schiaparelli Basin exhibits a spectacular view of layered, sedimentary rock. The 2.3 kilometer (1.4 miles) wide crater may have once been completely filled with sediment; the material was later eroded to its present form. Dozens of layers of similar thickness and physical properties are now expressed in a wedding cake-like stack in the middle of the crater. Sunlight illuminating the scene from the left shows that the circle, or mesa top, at the middle of the crater stands higher than the other stair-stepped layers. The uniform physical properties and bedding of these layers might indicate that they were originally deposited in a lake (it is possible that the crater was at the bottom of a much larger lake, filling Schiaparelli Basin); alternatively, the layers were deposited by settling out of the atmosphere in a dry environment. This picture was acquired on June 3, 2003, and is located near 0.9°S, 346.2°W.
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.