Status Report

NASA Mars Picture of the Day: South Polar Layered Slope

By SpaceRef Editor
November 29, 2003
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Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-559, 29 November 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

Both the north and south polar regions of Mars exhibit
thick deposits of layered sediment. These have been known
since the Mariner 9 (1972) and Viking (1976-1980) orbiter
missions. The layered deposits are considered to contain a
record of climate changes that occurred in the relatively
recent martian past, but most of that record will have to
wait until some time in the future when a lander or people
can go there to study them. Meanwhile, pictures such as
this from the
Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)
provide opportunities to view the layers where they are
exposed on slopes. Here, numerous layers have been exposed
by erosion in the south polar region.
The picture was obtained in October 2003 and is
located near 86.4°S, 112.4°W.
The image covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) wide, and is
illuminated by sunlight from the upper 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.