NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Beneath the northern plains of Mars are numerous buried meteor impact craters. One of the most heavily-cratered areas, although buried, occurs in Utopia Planitia, as shown in this Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image. The history of Mars is complex; impact craters provide a tool by which to understand some of that history. In this case, a very ancient, cratered surface was thinly-buried by younger material that is not cratered at all. This area is near 48.1°N, 228.2°W; less than 180 km (112 mi) west of the Viking 2 lander site. 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.