Status Report

NASA Mars Picture of the Day: Fretted Terrain Valley Floor 12-30-2003

By SpaceRef Editor
December 30, 2003
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Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-590, 30 December 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

This December 2003 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)
image shows lineated textures on the floor of a valley in the
Deuteronilus region of Mars. Deuteronilus, and neighboring
Protonilus and Nilosyrtis, have been known since the Mariner 9
mission as regions of “fretted terrain.” In this context,
“fretted” does not mean “worried,” it means “eroded.” The
fretted terrains of Mars are regions along the boundary
between cratered highlands and northern lowland plains that
have been broken-down into mesas, buttes, and valleys. On
the floors of some of these valleys occurs a distinctive
lineated and pitted texture–like the example shown here.
The cause of the textures is not known, although for decades
some scientists have speculated that ice is involved. While
this is possible, it is far from a demonstrated fact. This
picture is located
near 40.1°N, 335.1°W, and
covers an area approximately 3 km
(1.9 mi) wide; sunlight illuminates the scene from the lower left.

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.

SpaceRef staff editor.