NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This April 2003 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows a stair-stepped mound of sedimentary rock (right of center) on the floor of a large impact crater in western Arabia Terra near 11.0°N, 4.4°W. Sedimentary rock outcrops are common in the craters of this region. The repeated thickness and uniformity of the layers that make up this mound suggest that their depositional environment was one in which cyclic or episodic events occurred over some period of time. The sediments might have been deposited in a lake, or they may have settled directly out of the atmosphere. Most of the layered material was later eroded away, leaving this circular mound and the other nearby mesas and knobs. The image is illuminated by sunlight from the 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.