Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Heavily Cratered Surfaces

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-898, 2 November 2004

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

When it comes to planetary surfaces, the more craters there are, the older the terrain is believed to be. However, because the martian surface has experienced considerable episodes of erosion as well as burial of craters, a surface covered with many small craters on Mars is often one that is more resistant to erosion, not necessarily one that is older than a less-cratered surface. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows an example of an extremely cratered surface. This can be contrasted with nearly any of the exposures of martian sedimentary rock, which are very old but do not retain as many craters because they are more easily eroded. Hundreds of examples of martian sedimentary rock outcrops are listed in the MOC Captioned Release, Sedimentary Rocks gallery. This image is located near 33.6°S, 204.7°W. The picture covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) wide. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper 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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