NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Exposures of sedimentary rock are quite common on the surface of Mars. Less common, but found in many craters in the regions north and northwest of the giant basin, Hellas, are sedimentary rocks with distinct polygonal cracks in them. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows an example from the floor of an unnamed crater near 21.0°S, 311.9°W. Such cracks might have formed by desiccation as an ancient lake dried up, or they might be related to ground ice freeze/thaw cycles or some other stresses placed on the original sediment or the rock after it became lithified. The 300 meter scale bar is about 328 yards long. The scene 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.