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NASA Mars Picture of the Day: Mid-Latitude Gullies

Press Release From: NASAJPL/MSSS
Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera
MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-668, 17 March 2004


NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows gullies in the wall of a crater near 39.1°S, 200.7°W. Discussion among Mars scientists as to how martian middle- and polar-latitude gullies formed continues to this day. They were first observed in MGS MOC images and reported in June 2000. Most investigators agree that gullies, such as those shown here, were formed by running water, but disagree on whether the liquid came from snowmelt, groundwater, or melting ground ice. Still others argue that the fluid was carbon dioxide, and a few suggest that the gullies formed "dry"--that is, by landsliding processes involving no liquid or gas. This January 2004 MOC full-resolution (1.5 m/pixel; 5 ft./pixel) image is illuminated by sunlight from the upper left. The 300 m scale bar is approximately 984 ft. long.

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, California. 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, California and Denver, Colorado.

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