Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Fretted Terrain Valley Floor

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-590, 30 December 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

This December 2003 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows lineated textures on the floor of a valley in the Deuteronilus region of Mars. Deuteronilus, and neighboring Protonilus and Nilosyrtis, have been known since the Mariner 9 mission as regions of "fretted terrain." In this context, "fretted" does not mean "worried," it means "eroded." The fretted terrains of Mars are regions along the boundary between cratered highlands and northern lowland plains that have been broken-down into mesas, buttes, and valleys. On the floors of some of these valleys occurs a distinctive lineated and pitted texture--like the example shown here. The cause of the textures is not known, although for decades some scientists have speculated that ice is involved. While this is possible, it is far from a demonstrated fact. This picture is located near 40.1°N, 335.1°W, and covers an area approximately 3 km (1.9 mi) wide; sunlight illuminates the scene from the lower left.

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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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