NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
The terraced area in this Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image is an outcropping of ancient, sedimentary rock. It occurs in a crater in western Arabia Terra near 10.8°N, 4.5°W. Sedimentary rocks provide a record of past environments on Mars. Field work will likely be required to begin to get a good understanding of the nature of the record these rocks contain. Their generally uniform thickness and repeated character suggests that deposition of fine sediment in this crater was episodic, if not cyclic. These rocks might be indicators of an ancient lake, or they might have been deposited from grains settling out of an earlier, thicker, martian atmosphere. This image covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) across and is illuminated 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.