NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows dark sand dunes in a crater in Noachis Terra near 45.8°S, 323.4°W. Martian dunes, unlike the majority of their terrestrial counterparts, are dark because they are composed of minerals or rock fragments rich in unoxidized iron and magnesium. This image covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) wide. Sunlight illuminates this autumn scene from the upper 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.