Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

MOC "Looking Into" Martian Craters

MGS MOC Release Nos. MOC2-123, MOC2-124, MOC2-125, 11 May 1999



During the first week of May 1999, the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) spent some time peering into martian impact craters. Three examples are shown here.

The first crater (on left, MOC2-123) is located on a plain west of the Tartarus Montes (east of Elysium Mons volcano). The crater is about 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) across. Illumination is from the left.

The second crater (middle, MOC2-124) is located in south-central Syria Planum and is about 7.0 kilometers (4.4 miles) across. Illumination is from the upper left.

The third crater (right, MOC2-125) is found on Hesperia Planum and is 7.3 kilometers (4.5 miles) across. Illumination is from the upper left.

If you have ever visited the famous Meteor Crater in northern Arizona, U.S.A., then you are aware of its immense size on a human scale. The Arizona crater, however, is only 1 kilometer across (0.62 miles), whereas the first crater above (left) is nearly three times that size, and the other two are seven times wider.

Each crater was formed by the impact and explosion of a meteorite at some time in the martian past. After each crater formed, it was modified by wind and erosion. The craters show deposits of sand and dust on their floors and in low areas around their rims, they also typically have boulders and other debris that has slid down the inside walls of the crater; and some crater walls show exposures of bedrock.


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, CA. 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, CA and Denver, CO.

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