NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
The Mars Exploration Rover (MER-B), Opportunity, spent much of this year exploring outcrops of light-toned, layered, sedimentary rock that occur just beneath the dark plains of Sinus Meridiani. To access these rocks, the rover had to look at the walls and rims of impact craters. Further to the north and east of where the rover landed, similar rocks outcrop at the surface---in other words, they are not covered by dark sand and granules as they are at the rover site. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows an example from eastern Sinus Meridiani. All of the light-toned surfaces in this image are outcrops of ancient sedimentary rock. Similar rocks probably occur beneath the low albedo (dark) materials that mantle the lower-elevation surfaces in this area. This picture is located near 0.5°S, 356.7°W. The image covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) wide and sunlight illuminates the 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.