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Waspie_Dwarf

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

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Pits in Polar Cap


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This full-frame image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows faults and pits in Mars' north polar residual cap that have not been previously recognized.

The faults and depressions between them are similar to features seen on Earth where the crust is being pulled apart. Such tectonic extension must have occurred very recently because the north polar residual cap is very young, as indicated by the paucity of impact craters on its surface. Alternatively, the faults and pits may be caused by collapse due to removal of material beneath the surface. The pits are aligned along the faults, either because material has drained into the subsurface along the faults or because gas has escaped from the subsurface through them.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the instrument was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., Boulder, Colo.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

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Source: NASA - Missions - MRO

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Gypsum at Olympia Undae


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This Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) "targeted image" shows a region of sand dunes surrounding the Martian north polar cap. CRISM, an instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, acquired the image at 1811 UTC (2:11 p.m. EDT) on Oct. 1, 2006. The imaged site is near 80.0 degrees north latitude, 240.7 degrees east longitude. It covers an area about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) square. At the center of the image, the spatial resolution is as good as 20 meters (65 feet) per pixel. The image was taken in 544 colors covering 0.36 to 3.92 micrometers.

CRISM's sister instrument on the Mars Express spacecraft, OMEGA, has spectrally mapped Mars at lower spatial resolution and discovered that several regions of the planet are rich in sulfate minerals formed by liquid water. Surprisingly, one of the sulfate-rich deposits is a part of the giant field of sand dunes surrounding the north polar cap. CRISM is remapping the dune field at about five times higher resolution than OMEGA, and imaging selected regions at 50 times higher resolution. This image is the first of the high-resolution images of the dune field.

This visualization includes two renderings of the data, both map-projected. The left images are false-color representations showing brightness of the surface at selected infrared wavelengths. The right images show strength of an absorption band at 1900 nanometers wavelength, which indicates the relative abundance of the sulfate mineral gypsum. Brighter areas have more gypsum, and darker areas have less gypsum. The bottom views are enlargements of the central part of the two versions of the image shown at top.

Gypsum is a light-colored, whitish mineral, so it was anticipated that gypsum-rich parts of the sand dunes would be light in color. In fact, there are light-colored areas in the left images, but the images of the gypsum absorption at right show that the light areas have only low gypsum abundance. The dark sand dunes contain most of the gypsum, which is particularly concentrated at the dune crests. CRISM's scientists are taking more high-resolution images of the dune fields to see if this pattern is prevalent, and to attempt to track down the source of the gypsum that makes an arid dune field so rich in minerals formed long ago in liquid water.

The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) is one of six science instruments on NASAís Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Led by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the CRISM team includes expertise from universities, government agencies and small businesses in the United States and abroad.

CRISM's mission: Find the spectral fingerprints of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits and map the geology, composition and stratigraphy of surface features. The instrument will also watch the seasonal variations in Martian dust and ice aerosols, and water content in surface materials -- leading to new understanding of the climate.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the Califonia Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor and built the spacecraft.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/Brown University

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Source: NASA - Missions - MRO

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Clay at Nili Fossae


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This image of the Nili Fossae region of Mars was compiled from separate images taken by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) and the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), two instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The images were taken at 0730 UTC (2:30 a.m. EDT) on Oct. 4, 2006, near 20.4 degrees north latitude, 78.5 degrees east longitude. CRISM's image was taken in 544 colors covering 0.36 to 3.92 micrometers, and shows features as small as 18 meters (60 feet) across. HiRISE's image was taken in three colors, but its much higher resolution shows features as small as 30 centimeters (1 foot) across.

CRISM's sister instrument on the Mars Express spacecraft, OMEGA, discovered that some of the most ancient regions of Mars are rich in clay minerals, formed when water altered the planet's volcanic rocks. From the OMEGA data it was unclear whether the clays formed at the surface during Mars' earliest history of if they formed at depth and were later exposed by impact craters or erosion of the overlying rocks. Clays are an indicator of wet, benign environments possibly suitable for biological processes, making Nili Fossae and comparable regions important targets for both CRISM and HiRISE .

In this visualization of the combined data from the two instruments, the CRISM data were used to calculate the strengths of spectral absorption bands due to minerals present in the scene. The two major minerals detected by the instrument are olivine, a mineral characteristic of primitive igneous rocks, and clay. Areas rich in olivine are shown in red, and minerals rich in clay are shown in green. The derived colors were then overlayed on the HiRISE image.

The area where the CRISM and HiRISE data overlap is shown at the upper left, and is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) across. The three boxes outlined in blue are enlarged to show how the different minerals in the scene match up with different landforms. In the image at the upper right, the small mesa -- a flat-topped hill -- at the center of the image is a remnant of an overlying rock layer that was eroded away. The greenish clay areas at the base of the hill were exposed by erosion of the overlying rock. The images at the upper right and lower left both show that the reddish-toned olivine occurs as sand dunes on top of the greenish clay deposts. The image at the lower right shows details of the clay-rich rock, including that they are extensively fractured into small, polygonal blocks just a few meters in size. Taken together, the CRISM and HiRISE data show that the clay-rich rocks are the oldest at the site, that they are exposed where overlying rock has been eroded away, and that the olivine is not part of the clay-rich rock. Rather it occurs in sand dunes blowing across the clay.

Many more images of Nili Fossae and other clay-rich areas will be taken over the next two years. They will be used to try to understand the earliest climate of Mars that is recorded in the planet's rocks.

The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) is one of six science instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Led by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the CRISM team includes expertise from universities, government agencies and small businesses in the United States and abroad.

CRISM's mission: Find the spectral fingerprints of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits and map the geology, composition and stratigraphy of surface features. The instrument will also watch the seasonal variations in Martian dust and ice aerosols, and water content in surface materials ó leading to new understanding of the climate.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the Califonia Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor and built the spacecraft.

Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/Brown University

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Source: NASA - Missions - MRO

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Seasonal Frost in Terra Sirenum


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This image of the Terra Sirenum region of Mars was taken by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) at 0918 UTC (4:18 a.m. EST) on Nov. 25, 2006, near 38.9 degrees south latitude, 195.9 degrees east longitude. CRISM's image was taken in 544 colors covering 0.36-3.92 micrometers, and shows features as small as 18 meters (60 feet) across.

At this time, Mars' southern hemisphere was experiencing mid-winter. During Martian southern winter, the southern polar cap is covered and surrounded by carbon dioxide frost and water frost. This is unlike Earth, whose frozen winter precipitation is made up of only one volatile -- water. The carbon dioxide frost evaporates, or sublimates, at a lower temperature than water frost. So, during spring, the carbon dioxide ice evaporates first and leaves a residue of water frost, which later sublimates as well.

The image shown here covers part of a crater rim, which is illuminated from the upper left. North is at the top. The topography creates a cold microenvironment on the south side of the rim that is partially protected from solar illumination. That cold surface contains an outlier of the southern seasonal frost about 15 degrees of latitude closer to the equator than the average edge of the frost at this season.

The top image was constructed from three infrared wavelengths that highlight the bluer color of frost than the background rock and soil. Note that the frost occurs both on sunlit and shaded surfaces on the south side of the rim. The shaded areas are still visible because they are illuminated indirectly by the Martian sky.

The bottom image was constructed by measuring the depths of spectral absorption bands due to water frost and carbon dioxide frost, and displaying the results in image form. Blue shows strength of an absorption due to water frost near 1.50 micrometers, and green shows strength of an absorption due to carbon dioxide frost near 1.45 micrometers. Red shows brightness of the surface at 1.33 micrometers -- outside of the frost absorption bands -- in order to show the relationship of frost to the illuminated crater rim.

In comparing the top and bottom images, note that water frost occurs in many locations on the south-facing side of the crater rim, both in sunlit and shaded areas. Because it faces away from the sun, this side of the crater rim is colder than the north, sun-facing side. This favors the formation of frost. In contrast, carbon dioxide frost occurs only in the coldest, most shaded areas.

CRISM's mission: Find the spectral fingerprints of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits and map the geology, composition and stratigraphy of surface features. The instrument will also watch the seasonal variations in Martian dust and ice aerosols, and water content in surface materials -- leading to new understanding of the climate.

The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) is one of six science instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Led by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the CRISM team includes expertise from universities, government agencies and small businesses in the United States and abroad.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL

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Source: NASA - Missions - MRO

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New NASA Orbiter Sees Details of 1997 Mars Pathfinder Site


NASA's twin Mars rovers, nearing the third anniversary of their landings, are getting smarter as they get older.

The high-resolution camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has imaged the 1997 landing site of NASA's Mars Pathfinder, revealing new details of hardware on the surface and the geology of the region.

The new image from the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment is available on the Internet at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/multimedia/pia09105.html and at links from http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu.

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Image above: Close-up view of Pathfinder
on Mars.
Image credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona


The Pathfinder mission's small rover, Sojourner, appears to have moved closer to the stationary lander after the final data transmission from the lander, based on tentative identification of the rover in the image. Pathfinder landed on July 4, 1997, and transmitted data for 12 weeks. Unlike the two larger rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, currently active on Mars, Sojourner could communicate only with the lander, not directly with Earth.

The lander's ramps, science deck and portions of the airbags can be discerned in the new image. The parachute and backshell used in the spacecraft's descent lie to the south, behind a hill from the viewpoint of the lander. Four bright features may be portions of the heat shield.

Rob Manning, Mars program chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, said, "The new image provides information about Pathfinder's landing and should help confirm our reconstruction of the descent as well as give us insights into the landing and the airbag bounces."

Dr. Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, Tucson, principal investigator for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, said "Pathfinder's landing site is one of the most-studied places on Mars. Making connections between this new orbital image and the geological information collected at ground level aids our interpretation of orbital images of other places."

For more information on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mro.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment is operated by the University of Arizona, and the instrument was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., Boulder, Colo.

Media contacts: Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington

Lori Stiles 520-626-4402
University of Arizona, Tucson

2007-005


Source: NASA - Missions - MRO

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Mars Pathfinder Landing Site and Surroundings


NASA's Mars Pathfinder landed on Mars on July 4, 1997, and continued operating until Sept. 27 of that year. The landing site is on an ancient flood plain of the Ares and Tiu outflow channels. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took an image on Dec. 21, 2006, that provides unprecedented detail of the geology of the region and hardware on the surface.

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1. HiRISE image
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1. HiRISE Image: This is the entire image. The crater at center bottom was unofficially named "Big Crater" by the Pathfinder team. Its wall was visible from Pathfinder, located 3 kilometers (2 miles) to the north. The two bright features to the upper left of Big Crater are the "Twin Peaks," also observed by Pathfinder. The bright mound to the upper right of the Twin Peaks is "North Knob," seen in Pathfinder images as peaking over the horizon.

At this scale there is no obvious geologic evidence of an ancient flood. Rather, impact craters dominate the scene, attesting to an old surface. The age is probably on the order of 1.8 billion to 3.5 billion years, when the Ares and Tiu floods are estimated to have occurred. Wind-formed linear ripples and dunes are seen throughout and are concentrated within craters. Sets of polygonal ridges of enigmatic origin are seen east of the Pathfinder lander. Rocks are visible over the entire image, with heavy concentrations near fresh-looking craters. Most of them are probably blocks tossed outward by crater-forming impacts.

The complete image is centered at 19.1 degrees north latitude, 326.8 degrees east longitude. The range to the target site was 284.7 kilometers (177.9 miles). At this distance the image scale is 28.5 centimeters (11 inches) per pixel, so objects about 85 centimeters (33 inches) across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 25 centimeters (10 inches) per pixel. North is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:35 p.m., and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 52 degrees, thus the sun was about 38 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 154.0 degrees, the season on Mars is northern summer.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona


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2. Landing site region
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2. Landing Site Region: This is a close-up of the area in the vicinity of the Pathfinder landing site. Major features are named. The white box outlines the area of the image, discussed next, where hardware is seen.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona


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3. Hardware on the surface
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3. Hardware on the Surface: This image shows the Pathfinder lander on the surface. Zooming in, one can discern the ramps, science deck, and portions of the airbags on the Pathfinder lander. (See next image for closer view.) The back shell and parachute are to the south, and four features that may be portions of the heat shield are identified. Two of these were visible from Pathfinder. At the time of that mission, the nearest object was provisionally identified as the back shell. However, analysis of the HiRISE image and reinterpretation of Pathfinder images, plus an improved understanding of how hardware looks on the Martian surface based on ground-level and orbital images of the Mars Exploration Rover landing sites, indicate that the glint is bright enough that it may be insulating material from inside the heat shield. The back shell and parachute were out of sight behind a ridge from Pathfinder's ground view. One of the three bright features, identified as heat shield debris, was also identified during the Pathfinder mission.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona


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4. Topographic map
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4. Topographic Map of Landing Site Region: Portions of the HiRISE image are overlaid onto color-coded topographic maps constructed by the U.S. Geological Survey from stereo images acquired by the Imager for Mars Pathfinder on the lander. The white feature at the center is Pathfinder lander. The scales on the x and y axes are in meters, with the lander as the zero point. The color code for elevation relative to the lander is different in the left and right images, and shown in meters underneath each image. The correspondence between the overhead view revealed by HiRISE and the positions of topographic features inferred almost a decade ago from Pathfinder's horizontal view of the landscape is striking. The close-up on the right complements panoramas taken by the lander's camera, including the accompanying composite version showing the Sojourner rover at various locations it reached during the mission.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona/USGS


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5. Mars Pathfinder panorama
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5. Mars Pathfinder Gallery Panorama: This version of the Gallery Panorama taken with the lander's Imager for Mars Pathfinder camera shows many of the locations where the mission's Sojourner rover ended a Martian day during the 12-week mission. (There was only one Sojourner. The image is a composite.) One annotation indicates the last known position of Sojourner, near the rock "Chimp," at the time of the final data transmission from the lander. The location labeled "Sojourner?" has been tentatively identified as the current position of the rover based on comparison of the ground-level view with the Dec. 21, 2006, image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. At the proposed current location of the rover, a feature can be discerned in the 2006 orbital image that is about the right size for Sojourner and wasn't present when the Gallery Panorama was taken. Some rocks and other features that can be identified in the orbiter's high-resolution view are labeled in this ground-level view.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona


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6. Topographic Perspective
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6. Topographic Perspective of Landing Site Region: This is a perspective view based on the topographic map and artificial color derived from Pathfinder and other data. The vertical scale is exaggerated by a factor of three, compared with horizontal dimensions. The white feature at center is the Pathfinder lander. It appears flat because the topographic map derived from the Imager for Mars Pathfinder data did not include the spacecraft itself.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona/USGS


Source: NASA - Missions - MRO - Multimedia

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Correct me if Im wrong WD, but didnt the MRO take pictures of the rovers and the old Viking landers.

Edited by hazzard

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Correct me if Im wrong WD, but didnt the MRO take pictures of the rovers and the old Viking landers.

It did indeed hazzard. Those images are earlier in this thread, they can be found starting HERE.

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf
corrected link. This thread was once part of a much larger "Exploraion of Mars" thread.

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Spacecraft Set to Reach Milestone, Reports Technical Glitches



NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft this month is set to surpass the record for the most science data returned by any Mars spacecraft. While continuing to produce data at record levels, engineers are examining why two instruments are intermittently not performing entirely as planned. All other spacecraft instruments are operating well and continue to return science data.

Since beginning its primary science phase in November 2006, the orbiter has returned enough data to fill nearly 1,000 CD-ROMs. This ties the record for Mars data sent back between 1997 and 2006 by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor mission.

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Image above: Dunes in Proctor Crater, located in the southern hemisphere
of Mars where it was winter at the time this image was taken. Scientists
think the bright tones are carbon dioxide or water frost.
Image credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona
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In late November 2006 the spacecraft team operating the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter noticed a significant increase in noise, such as bad pixels, in one of its 14 camera detector pairs. Another detector, that developed the same problem soon after launch, has worsened. Images from the spacecraft camera last month revealed the first signs of this problem in five other detectors.

While the current impact on image quality is small, there is concern as to whether the problem will continue to worsen.

In-flight data show that more warming of the camera’s electronics before taking an image reduces or eliminates the problem. The imaging team aims to understand the root cause of the worsening over time and to determine the best operational procedures to maximize the long-term science benefits. The camera continues to make observations and is returning excellent images of the Martian surface.

The second instrument concern aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is related to an instrument designed to routinely scan from the surface across the atmosphere above Mars' horizon. The Mars Climate Sounder maps the temperature, ice clouds and dust distributions in the atmosphere on each of nearly 13 orbits every day. In late December, the sounder appeared to skip steps occasionally, so that its field of view was slightly out of position. Following uplink of new scan tables to the instrument, the position errors stopped and the instrument operated nominally.

In mid-January, the position errors reappeared. Although still intermittent, the errors became more frequent, so the instrument has been temporarily stowed while the science team investigates the problem.

The rate of data return is expected to increase over the coming months as the relative motions of Earth and Mars in their orbits around the sun shrink the distance between the planets. By the conclusion of its first science phase in 2008, the mission is expected to have returned more than 30 terabits of science data, enough to fill more than 5,000 CD-ROMs. Observations will be used to evaluate potential landing sites for future missions and to increase our understanding of Mars and how planets change over time.

The mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, Colo., is the prime contractor and built the spacecraft.

Additional information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is available on the Web at: http://www.nasa.gov/mro

Media contacts: Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington

2007-013


Source: NASA - Missions - MRO - News Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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HiRise Operations Center
Unusual Structure on Crater Rim in West Utopia Planitia


Observation ID PSP_001503_2180
Release date 07 February 2007
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Suggested media credit: Image NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Observation Geometry

Image PSP_001503_2180 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on 21-Nov-2006. The complete image is centered at 37.5 degrees latitude, 82.8 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 293.5 km (183.5 miles). At this distance the image scale is 29.4 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~88 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 25 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 03:23 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 49 degrees, thus the sun was about 41 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 138.8 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.


Source: HiROC Edited by Waspie_Dwarf
corrected source link.

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Nanedi Vallis: Tributaries and Albedo Changes


Observation ID PSP_001508_1850
Release date 07 February 2007
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Suggested media credit: Image NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Observation Geometry

Image PSP_001508_1850 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on 21-Nov-2006. The complete image is centered at 5.0 degrees latitude, 310.9 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 269.4 km (168.4 miles). At this distance the image scale ranges from 26.9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) to 107.8 cm/pixel (with 4 x 4 binning). The image shown here has been map-projected to 25 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 03:31 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 53 degrees, thus the sun was about 37 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 138.9 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.

Source: HiROC

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Slope Streaks in Acheron Fossae


Observation ID PSP_001656_2175
Release date 07 February 2007
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Credit: Image NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Image PSP_001656_2175 shows a portion of the wall (light-toned material) and floor of a trough in the Acheron Fossae region of Mars.

Many dark and light-toned slope streaks can be seen on the wall of the trough surrounded by dunes. Slope streak formation is among the few known processes currently active on Mars. While the mechanism of formation and triggering is debated, they are most commonly believed to form by downslope movement of extremely dry sand or very fine-grained dust in an almost fluidlike manner (analogous to a terrestrial snow avalanche) exposing darker underlying material.

Some of the slope streaks show evidence that downslope movement is being diverted around obstacles, such as large boulders, and a few appear to originate at boulders or clumps of rocky material. These slope streaks, as well as others on the planet, do not have deposits of displaced material at their downslope ends. The darkest slope streaks are youngest and can be seen to cross cut and lie on top of the older and lighter-toned streaks. The lighter-toned streaks are believed to be dark streaks that are lightening with time as new dust is deposited on their surface.

Observation Geometry

Image PSP_001656_2175 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on 03-Dec-2006. The complete image is centered at 37.3 degrees latitude, 229.1 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 290.4 km (181.5 miles). At this distance the image scale is 58.1 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~174 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 50 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 03:25 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 51 degrees, thus the sun was about 39 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 144.7 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.

Source: HiROC

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Gullies and... Gullies? in Terra Sirenum


Observation ID PSP_001697_1390
Release date 07 February 2007
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Credit: Image NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


Image PSP_001697_1390 shows part of an unnamed crater, itself located inside the much larger Newton Crater, in Terra Sirenum. This unnamed crater is approximately 7 km in diameter (over 4 miles) and some 700 m (760 yards) deep. Numerous gully systems are visible on the east- and south-facing walls of the crater; their characteristics are astonishingly diverse, though.

The image's subset shown here (1223 x 1425 pixels, 2 MB) covers an area of nearly 610 x 740 m (670 x 800 yards). Downhill is toward the bottom of the image, north is up; illumination is from the northwest. This subset depicts several gullies or troughs carved in the southwest-facing wall of the crater.

These troughs are extremely rectilinear, lack tributaries, and do not seem to have terminal fan deposits: they terminate rather abruptly, some of them in a spatula-like shape. Their characteristics contrast sharply with those of gully systems elsewhere in this same crater, which are sinuous, have numerous tributaries, and show distinct fan deposits.

HiRISE is unveiling the large diversity exhibited by Martian gully systems, thanks to its high-resolution, stereo, and color capabilities. The diverse types of gullies observed may have been produced by different mechanisms. Current leading hypotheses explaining the origin of gullies include erosion from seepage or eruption of water from a subsurface aquifer, melting of ground ice, or surface snow; and dry landslides.

Observation Geometry

Image PSP_001697_1390 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on 06-Dec-2006. The complete image is centered at -40.8 degrees latitude, 200.2 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 256.4 km (160.3 miles). At this distance the image scale is 51.3 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~154 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 50 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 03:40 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 74 degrees, thus the sun was about 16 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 146.3 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.

Source: HiROC

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Central Deposits in Pasteur Crater


Observation ID PSP_001756_1995
Release date 07 February 2007
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Credit: Image NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


This HiRISE image shows a portion of the central sedimentary deposits in Pasteur Crater.

These deposits are now being eroded into knobs and ridges. The erosion is probably dominated by wind, as most of the ridges are parallel. This is common in wind-eroded features, with the ridges generally aligned with the prevailing wind.

At high resolution, layering is revealed in many of the knobs and outcrops. The horizontal layers indicate that the material was deposited uniformly over a broad area. Possible origins include volcanic airfall or lacustrine (lake) deposits. After deposition, the rock in this area has been fractured and faulted, forming a diverse array of cracks.

The mottled appearance of much of the image is caused by dark, featureless patches which may be wind-blown dust. These have interacted with lighter-toned ridges and ripples which are probably also formed by eolian (wind) processes. In places, the dark patches partially cover the ripples, indicating that they have moved more recently, but they must be thin because the ripples frequently stand above surrounding dark material.

The ripples exhibit multiple interacting orientations in some places, producing networks of small ridges which reflect movement in winds from several direction.

Observation Geometry

Image PSP_001756_1995 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on 11-Dec-2006. The complete image is centered at 19.2 degrees latitude, 24.4 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 283.7 km (177.3 miles). At this distance the image scale is 56.8 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~170 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 50 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 03:33 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 51 degrees, thus the sun was about 39 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 148.6 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.

Source: HiROC

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A Field of Secondary Craters


Observation ID PSP_001756_1995
Release date 07 February 2007
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Credit: Image NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


PSP_002281_2115 shows a secondary crater field. Secondary craters form when material ejected from a larger impact event impacts the Martian surface. One impact event, depending on the size of the impactor, can form hundreds of millions of secondary craters at essentially the same time.

Primary craters (those created directly from an impactor from space) can be the same size as secondary craters, which makes dating surfaces based on the number of accumulated craters difficult to near-impossible. Secondary craters are distinguished from primaries based on their morphologies. They are sometimes irregularly shaped, as seen in this image, because they form at relatively low velocities. The velocity of the impactor determines a crater’s size, shape, and depth, with lower energy impacts forming shallow, less-developed craters and higher energy impacts forming deeper, more regular craters.

Secondary craters often occur in clusters, as seen here, as a piece of ejecta breaks up before hitting the surface. Primary craters form at random locations globally. Secondary clusters are more likely to be found in groups because of their formation mechanism.

Observation Geometry

Image PSP_002281_2115 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on 21-Jan-2007. The complete image is centered at 31.1 degrees latitude, 89.7 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 291.1 km (181.9 miles). At this distance the image scale is 29.1 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~87 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 25 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 03:34 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 57 degrees, thus the sun was about 33 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 170.2 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.

Source: HiROC

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A Fresh Crater Drills to Tharsis Bedrock


Release date Feb 13, 2007
Latitude: 17.00 N
Longitude: 246.40 E


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Click on image to enlarge.


The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) took this image of a newly formed impact crater in the Tharsis region of Mars at 1316 UTC (8:16 a.m. EST) on Jan. 13, 2007, near 17.0 degrees north latitude, 246.4 degrees east longitude. CRISM's image was taken in 544 colors covering 0.36-3.92 micrometers, and shows features as small as 20 meters (66 feet) across. The region covered by the image is just over 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide at its narrowest point.

The Tharsis region is a high volcanic plateau that stands about 5 kilometers (3 miles) above the surrounding plains. The rocks forming Tharsis are younger than in most parts of mars, as evidenced by their low density of craters. The best estimate of their age is comparable to the age of Shergotty-class meteorites thought to originate from Mars. However, Tharsis is covered by a nearly unbroken, meters-thick layer of dust that has frustrated all attempts to measure its bedrock composition remotely, and to determine if it matches the composition of Shergotty-class meteorites.

The recent discovery of dark, newly formed impact craters on Mars has provided the CRISM team a chance, finally, to measure the rocks that make up Tharsis. Over the lifetime of the Mars Global Surveyor mission, its high-resolution Mars Orbiter Camera monitored the surface and documented the very recent formation of some two dozen small impact craters. Several of them are in Tharsis and pierce the plateau's dust blanket to expose bedrock. MRO's instruments have been trained on these "drill holes" into Mars' volcanic crust, including the crater shown here.

The top image was constructed from three infrared wavelengths that usually highlight compositional variations. This image shows the impact crater, a ring of dark, excavated rock (inset), and a surrounding system of rays. Crater rays are common around young impact craters, and they form when ejected boulders reimpact the surface and stir up the local rock and soil. The colors are bland because the scene is dominated by dust except for the dark crater and the ejecta immediately surrounding it.

The bottom image is a spectral map constructed using measurements of the 544-color spectra that separate dust and rock. The bright, deep orange areas are undisturbed dust. The crater rays' chocolate color in this rendition shows that they are slightly darker, more packed-down soil that was exposed by reimpacting boulders. The bright green color immediately around the new crater (inset) is where mafic rock (rock rich in the iron- and magnesium-containing minerals pyroxene and olivine) have been exposed.

The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) is one of six science instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Led by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the CRISM team includes expertise from universities, government agencies and small businesses in the United States and abroad.

CRISM's mission: Find the spectral fingerprints of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits and map the geology, composition and stratigraphy of surface features. The instrument will also watch the seasonal variations in Martian dust and ice aerosols, and water content in surface materials — leading to new understanding of the climate.


Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL

Source: CRISM

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Northern Hemisphere Gullies with Layers


Observation ID PSP_001528_2210
Release date 14 February 2007
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Credit: Image NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


PSP_001528_2210 shows northern hemisphere gullies on a layered crater wall.

Many channels can be seen emanating from beneath layers suggesting that the layers are permeable and carried water to the slope face via the subsurface. It is also possible that the source of water came from the surface. The gullies that do not originate at a layer likely did at one time and have subsequently experienced headward erosion, eroding the layers upslope of their original location.

A mantled unit (smooth terrain) can be seen above the sources of and within many of the gullies in this image. The mantled unit has been proposed to be remnant snowpack that melts at its bottom to carve gullies. The mantled unit is less abundant in locations where the gullies are most deeply incised, which supports the melting snowpack theory.

Deeper incision typically involves more water and/or more flow events. If the mantled unit is the source of the liquid for the gullies, then it is expected that locations with evidence of larger or more frequent flows would be associated with regions of less mantled unit. It is unknown whether the mantled unit can insulate the surface sufficiently to allow temperatures and pressures appropriate for liquid water formation. An answer to this awaits future modeling of snowpack under Martian conditions.

Within the subimage, (3000 x 2000, 17 MB) channels can clearly be seen to originate at a variety of layers. Also noticeable is the smooth, mantled material located between layers above these gullies..

Observation Geometry

Image PSP_001528_2210 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on 23-Nov-2006. The complete image is centered at 40.6 degrees latitude, 120.1 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 298.9 km (186.8 miles). At this distance the image scale is 29.9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~90 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 25 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 03:22 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 50 degrees, thus the sun was about 40 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 139.7 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.

Source: HiROC

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Portion of Isidis Planitia Near the Beagle 2 Landing Ellipse


Observation ID PSP_002136_1920
Release date 14 February 2007
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Credit: Image NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


This image shows a portion of cratered plains in Isidis Planitia, near or perhaps within the landing ellipse for Beagle 2.

There are some interesting bright-pixel artifacts that are due to cosmic-ray events detected by the HiRISE camera, similar to those seen when imaging black sky during cruise to Mars.

The image shows two portions of the Isidis Planitia image with bright noise at top, and 6 examples of bright noise seen in the cruise images; all are from the original, unprocessed images.

Observation Geometry

Image PSP_002136_1920 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on 09-Jan-2007. The complete image is centered at 11.8 degrees latitude, 90.9 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 277.5 km (173.5 miles). At this distance the image scale is 27.8 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~83 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 25 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 03:36 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 54 degrees, thus the sun was about 36 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 164.1 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.

Source: HiROC

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Ridges as Evidence of Fluid Alteration


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Tectonic fractures within the Candor Chasma region of Valles Marineris, Mars, retain ridge-like shapes as the surrounding bedrock erodes away. This points to past episodes of fluid alteration along the fractures and reveals clues into past fluid flow and geochemical conditions below the surface.

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this image on Dec. 2, 2006. The image is approximately 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) across. Illumination from the upper left.

This view is a portion of the camera's image catalogued as PSP_001641_1735.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the instrument was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., Boulder, Colo.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

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Source: NASA - Missions - MRO

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Light-Toned Bedrock Along Cracks as Evidence of Fluid Alteration



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This enhanced-color image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a landscape of sand dunes and buttes among a background of light-toned (tan-colored) bands and dark-toned (blue-colored) bands in the Candor Chasma region of Mars' Valles Marineris canyon system.

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Figures 2A, 2B and 2C
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The scene includes examples of thin dark lines bordered by light-toned bedrock [Figures 2A, 2B and 2C]. The dark lines are interpreted as fractures, called joints, that were formerly underground but have been exposed at the surface by erosion of overlying material. The light-toned material along the joints is interpreted as features called halos, resulting from mineral alteration (bleaching, cementation or both) of the walls of the fractures by fluid moving through the fractures.

The image was acquired on Sept. 30, 2006, during winter in Mars' southern hemisphere, at a local Mars time of 3:29 p.m. It combines separate band passes taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment in blue-green light, red light and near-infrared light.

The scene is illuminated from the west (left) with a solar incidence angle of 58.5 degrees. The image scale is 26 centimeters (10 inches) per pixel, the scale of the red bandpass image. The other bandpasses were acquired with two-by-two pixel binning to 52 centimeters (20 inches) per pixel.

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Supplement 2
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The image, in the camera's catalogue as TRA_000836_1740, is centered at 5.7 degrees south latitude, 284.6 degrees east longitude. A locator map [Supplement 2] based on elevation data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor indicates this location in the context of the Candor Chasma region.


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Supplement 3
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Supplement 3 shows light-toned and dark-toned layers. Meter-scale dune forms are commonly observed within the dark layers. Also shown are joints and surrounding halos. In contrast to Figure 2, the halos along these joints are laterally more extensive and less localized along the trace of the joint.

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Supplement 4
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Supplement 4 shows two streamlined mesas of layered bedrock. The windward slopes of these mesas appear smooth, consistent with wind erosion. Boulders are common along the northwest slopes of the mesas. The horizontal spacing of joints appears to control the lateral dimensions of many of the largest boulders.

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Supplement 5
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Supplement 5 shows a high-density population of joints.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the instrument was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., Boulder, Colo.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona


Source: NASA - Missions - MRO

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Linear Ridges at 'Victoria Crater'


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This enhanced-color view of the eastern rim and floor of "Victoria Crater" in Mars' Meridiani Planum region comes from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera in NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

It shows ridges that may be fractures surrounded by chemically cemented sedimentary bedrock. The ridges are therefore potentially fruitful targets for analysis by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which is investigating the rim of this crater.

Illumination is from the upper left.

The image is a detail from a image TRA_000873_1780, in the camera's catalog [PIA08813], taken on Oct. 3, 2006.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the instrument was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., Boulder, Colo.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona


Source: NASA - Missions - MRO

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Ridges in Stereo, Candor Chasma


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A stereo view shows fractures called joints. They have a ridge-like shape, standing out in positive relief as the surrounding bedrock is eroded away faster than they are. This positive relief suggests that the rock along the joints has been strengthened through chemical reactions with fluids flowing through these joints.

The view appears three-dimensional when seen through red-green glasses. It combines two images taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter from slightly different overhead positions. The constituent blue image is a portion of image PSP_001641_1735 in the camera's catlog, taken Dec. 2, 2006. The red image is part of PSP_002063_1735, taken Jan. 4, 2007.

The area covered in this image is about 5.8 kilometers (3.6 miles) wide, located within Candor Chasma, approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) southeast of the area shown in PIA09190.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the instrument was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., Boulder, Colo.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

To find out where you may get 3-D glasses, visit http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/Help/VendorList.html#Glasses


Source: NASA - Missions - MRO

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Halos Along Fractures Exposed in Meridiani


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This image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows evidence for ancient fluid flow along fractures in Mars' Meridiani Planum region.

The scene includes pervasive signs of ancient fluid flow in the form of bleached and cemented features, called halos, along fractures within the layered deposits of Meridiani. This site is approximately 375 kilometers (233 miles) northeast of "Victoria Crater."

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Cutout A
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Cutout B
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The view is a portion of image PSP_002324_1815 in the camera's catalog. The image scale is 27 centimeters (10.6 inches) per pixel. Illumination is from the upper left. Smaller portions of the scene [Cutout A and Cutout B] are pulled out to highlight examples of the halos. The high-resolution camera acquired this image on Jan. 24, 2007.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the instrument was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., Boulder, Colo.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona


Source: NASA - Missions - MRO

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NASA Mars Orbiter Sees Effects of Ancient Underground Fluids


The linked-image press release is reproduced below:

Feb. 15, 2007
Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1926

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6278

Lori Stiles
University of Arizona, Tucson
520-626-44020

RELEASE: 07-043

NASA Mars Orbiter Sees Effects of Ancient Underground Fluids


SAN FRANCISCO - Liquid or gas flowed through cracks penetrating underground rock on Mars, according to a report based on some of the first observations by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. These fluids may have produced conditions to support possible habitats for microbial life.

These ancient patterns were revealed when the most powerful telescopic camera ever sent to Mars began examining the planet last year. The camera showed features as small as approximately 3 feet across. Mineralization took place deep underground, along faults and fractures. These mineral deposits became visible after overlying layers eroded throughout millions of years.

Chris Okubo, a geologist at the University of Arizona, Tucson, discovered the patterns in an image of exposed layers in a Martian canyon named Candor Chasma. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera aboard the orbiter took the image in September 2006.

"What caught my eye was the bleaching or lack of dark material along the fracture. That is a sign of mineral alteration by fluids that moved through those joints," said Okubo. "It reminded me of something I had seen during field studies in Utah, that is light-tone zones, or 'haloes,' on either side of cracks through darker sandstone."

"This result shows how orbital observations can identify features of particular interest for future exploration on the surface or in the subsurface or from sample return. The alteration along fractures, concentrated by the underground fluids, marks locations where we can expect to find key information about chemical and perhaps biologic processes in a subsurface environment that may have been habitable," said Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for the camera at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

The haloes visible along fractures seen in the Candor Chasma image appear to be raised slightly relative to surrounding, darker rock. This is evidence that the circulating fluids hardened the lining of the fractures, as well as bleaching it. The harder material would not erode as quickly as softer material farther from the fractures.

"The most likely origin for these features is that minerals that were dissolved in water came out of solution and became part of the rock material lining the fractures. Another possibility is that the circulating fluid was a gas, which may or may not have included water vapor in its composition," Okubo said.

Similar haloes adjacent to fractures show up in images that the high-resolution camera took of other places on Mars after the initial Candor Chasma image. "We are excited to be seeing geological features too small to have been noticed previously," Okubo said.

"This publication is just the first of many, many to come. The analysis is based on test observations taken even before the start of our main science phase. Since then, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has returned several terabits of science data, sustaining a pace greater than any other deep space mission. This flood of data will require years of study to exploit their full value, forever increasing our understanding of Mars and its history of climate change," said Richard Zurek, project scientist for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Okubo and McEwen report these findings in the Feb. 16 edition of the journal Science. Images showing the haloes along fractures are available on the Web at:



The Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the orbiter mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The University of Arizona operates the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera. Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., Boulder, Colo built the camera.

- end -

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Source: NASA Press Release 07-043

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Seems Mars is starting to show it's past...Earthlike.... :blush:

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