NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows dark slope streaks coming off of rugged hills in the Lycus Sulci region, north of the Olympus Mons volcano. These slopes are mantled with fine, bright dust. From time to time, the dust will avalanche down a slope, forming a slope streak. The behavior of this dry, granular material can be somewhat fluid-like. New slope streaks can form at any time and, for an area the size of that shown here, may form at a rate of one per Mars year (687 Earth days). Naturally, some scientists have suggested that water plays a role in forming these streaks, but, in general, Mars is drier than the driest deserts on Earth and these streaks are contemporary features that occur in the dustiest regions of the planet. The image is located near 29.8°N, 133.4°W, and covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) across. The picture 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.