NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows large, light-toned, ripple-like windblown bedforms in a portion of the giant flood channel complex, Maja Valles. Ripples such as these are very common on Mars but not very well understood. They are larger than most ripples on Earth, and smaller than typical dunes. They are usually old, and probably immobile, features. Sometimes, larger, dark sand dunes are seen riding over them (although that is not the case here). If similarly-sized ripples were to be investigated by a Mars rover, they would probably provide critical information that would help determine the nature of bedforms like these all over Mars. The Maja Valles scene shown here is located near 17.7°N, 54.8°W, and covers an area about 1.4 km (0.9 mi) wide. Sunlight illuminates the scene 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.