Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Release: MOC2-16A, -16B, -16C Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Image IDs: 561685356.2306 P023_06
JPEG = 83 KBytes, (B) JPEG = 183 KByte, (C) JPEG = 270 KBytes
This view of Mars, showing a small area immediately south of the large crater Schiaparelli, was taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera during its 23rd pass close to the planet. It was acquired on October 18, 1997, at 3:42 PM PST, about 10 minutes after closest approach. The image covers an area 4.6 km (2.9 miles) wide by 21.1 km (13.1 miles) high, at a resolution of 4.5 m by 7.9 m (14.75 X 25.9 feet) per picture element, and is centered at 5.5°S, 340.7°W. The local time of the acquisition was about 4:50 PM.
(A) shows the location in the best available image from the Viking Orbiters (approximately 240 m/pixel). (B) is the full image, while (C) is an enlarged portion of (B).
There are two exciting results seen in this image. First, the small dunes moving from left to right (north to south) along the canyon floor are apparently derived from bright deposits within Schiaparelli crater. They are brighter than most martian dunes and may represent a unique composition. The shape of the dunes, and their relationships to one another, strongly suggest that these dunes have been active recently, although whether that means within the past year or the past century cannot be told from these images alone.
The second discovery made in this image are the small depressions found in the upper left and center of image [best seen in (C)] with faint dark lines crossing lighter floors. These depressions, and the pattern of lines, are similar to dry lake beds seen throughout the deserts of the southwestern United States. The light material may be salts or other minerals deposited as the lake evaporated, and the dark lines may be cracks created as the material dried out. Alternative explanations for the dark lines, involving freezing and thawing of water-saturated soil, are equally intriguing. In both cases, these features are the examples of a suite of such forms that can be used to diagnose the amount and distribution of surficial water that may have once ponded on Mars.
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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