Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera
Layers in Cratered Highland Crust Exposed by Tagus Vallis
MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-95, 16 March 1999
Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)
images of the Valles Marineris chasm walls
obtained early in the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission demonstrated
that the upper martian crust--at least in the location of the Valles
Marineris--is layered down to depths of several kilometers/miles.
Over the past year, examination of additional MGS MOC images of other
parts of Mars--including the vast, heavily cratered terrains of the
red planet--also exhibt a layered crust. On Earth, geologists use the
composition, texture, and sequence of layered rocks to decipher
clues about the planet's history. Mars might offer a similar opportunity.
Shown here is a picture of Tagus Vallis in the martian southern hemisphere.
The picture on the left shows this valley in a view that is about
7 kilometers (4.4 miles) wide by 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) high. Tagus Vallis
is the deep, steep-walled valley that runs almost diagonally from upper
left to lower right. The white box shows the location of the magnified
view of the valley walls on the right. Layered rock can be seen, exposed in
the upper slopes of the valley. Bright sand dunes are visible on the
valley floor (lower left) and on the upland plain (upper right).
In this picture, the illumination is from the upper right.
This image was obtained in April 1998
during the MGS Science Phasing
Orbits imaging campaign. This result was presented at the
30th Lunar and Planetary
Science Conference in Houston, Texas, March 1999.
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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