Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

The Terrain of Margaritifer Chaos

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-185, 18 October 1999


The jumbled and broken terrain in the picture on the left is known as chaotic terrain. Chaotic terrain was first observed in Mariner 6 and 7 images of Mars more than 30 years ago, and is thought to result from collapse after material--perhaps water or ice--was removed from the subsurface by events such as the formation of giant flood channels. The region shown here is named "Margaritifer Chaos". The left picture is a Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) red wide angle camera context frame that covers an area 115 km (71 miles) across. The small white box is centered at 10.3°S, 21.4°W and indicates the location of the high-resolution view on the right. The high resolution view (right) covers a small portion of the Margaritifer Chaos at 1.8 meters (6 feet) per pixel. The area shown is 3 km (1.9 miles) across. Uplands are lumpy with small bright outcrops of bedrock. Lowlands or valleys in the chaotic terrain have floors covered by light-toned windblown d rifts. This image is typical of the very highest-resolution views of the equatorial latitudes of Mars. Both pictures are illuminated from the left/upper left, north is toward the top. For a full-resolution view of the 1.8 m/pixel image (1.1 Mbytes), Click HERE.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems.

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, CA. 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, CA and Denver, CO.

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