Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Distributary Channels

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-360, 14 May 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

At the center of this February 2003 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image is a pattern of branching channels in an apron of debris that distributed the sediment and fluid carried by the large gully below (to the south) of them. The slope decreases from the bottom toward the top of the image---that is, everything is downhill from the bottom to the top. Middle- and polar-latitude gullies were first discovered in MOC images and reported in June 2000. The distributing channels found in this gully apron are a good indicator that the fluid responsible for the gully and distributary channels had properties like that of liquid water. However, of course, the exact nature of the fluid is unknown, because it is no longer present. This picture is located near 47.8°S, 355.6°W. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the lower 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.

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