Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Massive Unit in Gale Crater Mound

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


The upper rocks exposed in the Gale Crater central mound are "massive". That is, they show no, or very weak, hints of being layered. Massive units are usually found above layered units among the sedimentary rock outcrops on Mars. The lack or near-lack of layering may indicate that the environment in which these materials were deposited was less dynamic than the time when the layered materials were formed. Their presence likely indicates a change or evolution in martian geologic processes and perhaps climate during the first billion (or less) years of martian history. The picture on the left shows an example of one of the massive units exposed in Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image M03-01521. The picture on the right is a colored map showing the different layered and massive rock units identified in the Gale Crater mound; the white box indicates the location of the picture on the left. Refer to "Oblique view of Gale Crater Mound," MOC2-265E, December 4, 2000 to see the location of the color map relative to the entire mound. For additional information about Gale Crater, see Sediment History Preserved in Gale Crater Central Mound, MOC2-260, 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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