NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows a strange ridged pattern developed in an eroding layer of material on the floor of a Labyrinthus Noctis depression in the Valles Marineris system. The ridges bear some resemblance to ripple-like dunes seen elsewhere on Mars, but they are linked to the erosion of a specific layer of material--i.e., something in the rock record of Mars. Similar ridged textures are found in eroded dark-toned mantling layers in regions as far away as northern Sinus Meridiani and Mawrth Vallis. The explanation for these landforms is as elusive as this image is evocative. The image is located near 8.2°S, 93.6°W, and covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) across. The scene is illuminated by sunlight 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.