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Contacts Between Light and Dark Material in Meridiani Planum

HiRISE Image TRA_000833_1800

This HiRISE image shows geologic "contacts", or boundaries, between light-toned and dark-toned material in Meridiani Planum, near the equator of Mars. Merdiani Planum is where the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is located, although this image covers an area that is more than 600 km to the east of the Opportunity site. The central portion of the image shows very smooth, dark plains that are typical of much of the Meridiani region. These plains are flanked by more rugged lighter-toned materials. The light-toned materials have been eroded to form dramatic pits, buttes and mesas. Based on the lengths of the shadows that they cast, some of the buttes and mesas are up to about 30 meters (~100 feet) tall. The light-toned material shows distinctive layering, suggesting that it may be composed of sedimentary rock. Scattered across the scene, especially in the light-toned materials where they are prominent in low spots and around some of the larger buttes and mesas, are dunes and other similar landforms created by martian winds.

Image TRA_000833_1800 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on September 30, 2006. The complete image is centered at 0.2 degrees latitude, 5.8 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 269.1 km (168.2 miles). At this distance the image scale ranges from 53.8 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) to 107.7 cm/pixel (with 4 x 4 binning). 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 3:27 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 55 degrees, thus the sun was about 35 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 113.9 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.

Images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment and additional information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are available online at:




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, 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.

Image Product Pixel Dimensions File Size
Small JPG 512
Large JPG 2048
Full-Scale JP2 11355
Products for TRA_000833_1800

The highest resolution image is provided in the JPEG-2000 (JP2) format. A JP2 viewer application and browser plug-in may be freely obtained for Mac OS X and Windows platforms: ExpressView by LizardTech, a Celartem Technology Inc. company.

Learn more about HiRISE at these sites: