NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
The sedimentary rock outcrops explored this year by the Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, in Meridiani Planum are just the "tip of the iceberg." Northern Sinus Meridiani exhibits vast outcrops of sedimentary rock of widely varied erosional characteristics and physical properties. Investigation of these rocks from orbit using the high resolution capabilities of the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) has been underway for nearly seven years. This MGS MOC image shows an example, complete with small buttes formed of eroded sedimentary rock, in northern Sinus Meridiani. The image is located near 1.2°N, 358.9°W, and covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) across. Sunlight illuminates the terrain from the 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.