Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Meridiani Craters

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-952, 26 December 2004

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

A little over 11 months ago, the Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, landed on Meridiani Planum. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows a small portion of Meridiani Planum--too far from the rover for it to investigate--that has been peppered with small impact craters. The majority of craters, particularly those in the lower half of the image, are secondary impacts caused by the landing of rock and debris ejected from a much larger impact crater, located elsewhere in the region. The large, nearly circular depression at the top center of the image is the site of a much older crater that was filled and almost completely buried beneath the plains. As result of the rover's work in Meridiani Planum, it is now known that the bright rims and walls of the craters are, at least in part, exposures of sedimentary rock. The dark material covering the plains, according to rover results, is mostly very fine sand plus millimeter-sized granules. This picture covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) across, and is located near 2.5°S, 3.3°W. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the 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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