Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

10,232 New MOC Images From August 2002 through February 2003 Released

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-499, 30 September 2003

MOC2-499a: Hellas "Taffy Pull"

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
MOC2-499b: North Polar Dunes

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
MOC2-499c: Valley near Phlegra Dorsa

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

Today, 30 September 2003, the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) team is pleased to announce the release of 10,232 newly-validated, archived images acquired between August 2002 and February 2003. These MOC Extended Mission data were obtained during portions of the martian northern spring and summer seasons (autumn and winter in the southern hemisphere), and thus include many new views of north polar terrain, extremely clear-atmosphere views of Hellas Planitia, and a variety of martian landforms between the north pole and southern middle latitudes.

The new data can be viewed by visiting the Malin Space Science Systems MOC Gallery. The MOC Gallery now contains more than 134,000 images acquired by the MGS camera since it began taking pictures in September 1997. The data now span more than 2 full Mars years since the mapping phase of the mission began in March 1999. Every six months, a new suite of MGS MOC data are archived with the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS). Archiving occurs after a labor-intensive effort to validate the data acquired in the previous six-month period. The three pictures shown here are examples of the high resolution data acquired during the August 2002 through February 2003 period. Captions for each image follows:

MOC2-499a: Hellas "Taffy Pull":
Some of the strangest-looking surfaces on Mars occur in northwestern Hellas Planitia. Over the years, the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) team has informally--quite informally--taken to calling these surfaces, "taffy-pull terrain." This image shows an example located near 39.2°S, 305.2°W. The origin of this pattern is unknown, although it is thought to be related to the erosion of different layers of bedrock or substrate of differing physical properties. That is, a hard layer would be more difficult to erode than a soft, or poorly-consolidated layer. However, layering and erosion alone probably do not explain these landforms; perhaps faulting or mass movement of debris is also involved. As with all other explorations in our Solar System, sometimes the pictures we get back from space present us with more questions, rather than answers. This image covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) across; sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper left.

MOC2-499b: North Polar Dunes:
The steepest slope on a sand dune, the slipface, indicates the general direction that wind has been transporting sediment. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows several dark sand dunes in the north polar region. Sand transport in this case is from the lower left (southwest) toward the upper right (northeast). The picture is located near 76.5°N, 257.4°W, and covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) across. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the lower left.

MOC2-499c: Valley near Phlegra Dorsa:
This February 2003 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) picture shows a valley in the Phlegra Dorsa region of Mars near 26.3°N, 186.2°W. The valley might have formed by flowing water or lava, but very little is yet known about this valley---where is its source? where does it end? The valley is intimately associated with lava flows, and might therefore result from volcanism rather than water. The fluid responsible for the valley moved from the lower left (southwest) toward the upper right (northeast). The picture covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) wide. The scene is illuminated by sunlight 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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