NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
The heavily cratered terrains of Mars bear the scars of many, ancient valley systems and networks. When these were first seen in images from Mariner 9 more than 30 years ago, most investigators working on the topic concluded that the valleys must have formed by running water. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows a somewhat meandered portion of Scamander Vallis, located in central Arabia Terra near 16.9°N, 331.5°W. The valley today is quite dry and the entire area---valley, craters, and surrounding terrain---are covered by an almost uniform blanket of dust. Dark streaks on the slopes are formed by small avalanches of dust. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the right.
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.