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Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Other Martian Gullies With Light-Toned Deposits

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-1620, 6 December 2006

(A) MOC2-1620-a
Rugged, mountainous crater wall with more than a dozen gullies, at least three of which have light-toned material on their floors and in their aprons.
Light-toned gully materials (arrows) in northeast wall of Hale Crater, 35.5°S, 35.4°W.
Annotated ImageNo Annotation
(B) MOC2-1620-b
Small portion of a crater wall, showing gully with light-toned apron deposit.
Light-toned gully materials in a crater on the martian northern plains, 59.0°N, 277.7°W.
Annotated ImageNo Annotation
(C) MOC2-1620-c
Slope with gullies, boulders, layers, and several light-toned deposits.
Light-toned gully materials in the walls of a pit in a filled crater in Noachis Terra, 47.2°S, 355.8°W.
Annotated ImageNo Annotation
NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) captured two examples of gullies on crater walls in which a change occurred between 1999 and 2005. In each case, one in Terra Sirenum (see New Gully Deposit in a Crater in Terra Sirenum), the other in the Centauri Montes (see New Gully Deposit in a Crater in the Centauri Montes Region), new light-toned material was deposited during the MGS mission. These new light-toned deposits may be indicators that water flowed at these two gully sites during the past few years. Naturally, a question arises: Are there other gullies at which similar light-toned deposits have formed?

To answer the question, the MOC team at Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) reviewed every MOC image ever taken of a martian gully. Most of the gullies occur at middle latitudes in both the northern and southern hemispheres. This re-examination turned up several good examples of other light-toned materials deposited in gullies. However, in none of these cases is there a “before” image, with no light-toned material, followed by an “after” image in which new light-toned material had appeared. Thus, one cannot know how long ago these other light-toned deposits formed. However, these are excellent candidates for future monitoring with orbiter cameras that have sufficient spatial resolution to look for new light-toned deposits, should they form during the coming years. Shown here are three of the best examples the MOC team identified.

(A) The first image shows several gullies with light-toned material on their floors and deposited in their aprons. This area is located on the northeast wall of Hale Crater near 35.5°S, 35.4°W. The picture is a mosaic of MOC images R07-02277 (acquired 31 July 2003), R13-01791 (acquired 11 January 2004), and S16-01780 (acquired 21 March 2006). The 500 meter scale bar is 547 yards long.

(B) The second image shows a portion of the south wall of an unnamed crater on the northern plains of Mars, near 59.0°N, 277.7°W. As in the previous example, the material deposited after movement through the gully channel is light-toned. A portion of another gully is seen on the left edge of the picture. This is a sub-frame of MOC image R01-00902, acquired on 19 January 2003.

(C) The third picture is a mosaic of MOC images M11-00286 (acquired 2 January 2000), S13-01274 (acquired 13 December 2005), and R09-01804 (acquired 16 September 2003). The arrows point to several light-toned gully deposits that were observed at this location, the wall of a deep pit formed in a large crater nearly filled with layered, boulder-producing rock. These features are located in Noachis Terra near 47.2°S, 355.8°W.

Accompanying captioned releases regarding gullies on Mars:

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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.