Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

A Martian "Monument Valley"--Mesas on the Elysium Plains

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-131, 3 June 1999



This recent Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows mesas and smaller buttes that occur on the Elysium Plains, approximately 300 kilometers (~185 miles) south of the Cerberus region in the Martian eastern hemisphere.

Like the world-famous Monument Valley located in the Navajo Nation on the border of Arizona and Utah, this "Martian Monument Valley" consists of a series of mesas and buttes that have formed by erosion of layered bedrock. The uneroded rock forms a flat upland at the top of the image. The number of mesas and buttes decreases toward the bottom of the image, but their presence indicates that the rock in which they formed was once more extensive and covered the entire scene. Small dunes form parallel ridges on the lowland between many of the mesas near the top of the image. The image covers an area that is 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) wide and is illuminated from 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, 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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