Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Layers in Crater at 8°N, 7°W

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-265B, 4 December 2000


Erosion has exposed hundreds of layers of the same thickness and pattern on the floors of craters throughout western Arabia Terra. This example comes from a crater at 8°N, 7°W. In this view, dark windblown sand helps make the layers "stand out" in sharp detail. Layers of repeated thickness and physical expression such as these indicate repeated (cyclic or episodic) patterns of change in the deposition of the sediments that formed these rocks billions of years ago. The fact that they tend to occur within martian impact craters might be an indicator that these layers formed as sediments in a lake. Alternatively, they formed from dust falling out of the air in an early martian environment that was dynamic and capable of transporting more dust than today's thin atmosphere (which is about 100 times thinner than Earth's at the surface). This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) picture was taken in April 2000 and is illuminated from the left/lower left. For additional information about this picture, see "Layered Material in West Arabia Terra Crater," MOC2-261, December 4, 2000.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

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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