NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Mariner 9 images acquired in 1972 first revealed a large, light-toned, layered mound in Ganges Chasma, part of the vast Valles Marineris trough system. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows a higher-resolution view of these rocks than was achieved by Mariner 9 or Viking, and higher than can be obtained by Mars Odyssey or Mars Express. The image, with a resolution of about 3.7 meters (12 feet) per pixel, shows eroded layered rock outcrops in Ganges Chasma. These rocks record a history of events that occurred either in Ganges Chasma, or in the rocks brought to the surface by the opening of Ganges Chasma. Either way, the story they might tell could be as fascinating and unprecedented as the story told by sedimentary rocks investigated this year in Meridiani Planum by the Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover... no one knows. The image is located near 7.3°S, 48.8°W, and covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) across. The picture is is illuminated by sunlight from the upper 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.