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Mawrth Vallis

This color image covers only the center swath of the full image, and is composed of images acquired through infrared, red, and blue-green filters. The color has been enhanced to better show the subtle color differences. It is not natural color or how it would appear to normal human vision.

This is a full-resolution subset of image TRA_000847_2055, acquired over the Mawrth Vallis region; it covers an area of approximately 230-by-200 m (750-by-650 feet). The landscape in this region is dominated by dark-toned mesas like the one in this image. The mesas are formed by materials of variable resistance to erosion, as shown by alternating steep and gentler slopes. Layers less than about 75 cm (30 inches) thick can be identified in this image; rocks the size of a beach ball (about 50 cm or 20 inches) can also be seen on the slopes of the mesa. Dark fine grained materials, movable by wind, form linear dunes or ripples such as the ones on the northeast section of this image; some of them are almost 30 m (100 feet) long. Other prominent features in this image are the light-toned materials toward the south and east, which appear to be densely fractured. The nature of these materials will be further investigated utilizing the high-resolution and color capabilities of HiRISE.

Besides acquiring black-and-white images of a swath 6 km (about 4 miles) wide, HiRISE can also image the central 20% of the swath width in color. Color images can help resolve ambiguities in image interpretation, and will enable us to place compositional data from other experiments into more specific geologic context. HiRISE can "see" color in the visible range (the red, green, and blue portions of the spectrum) and beyond (in the near infrared).

The Mawrth Vallis region holds special interest because of the presence of phyllosilicate (clay) minerals which probably formed in the presence of water. Clays at Mawrth Vallis were first identified in data from the OMEGA instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. The CRISM instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has identified aluminum-rich and iron-rich clays in this region, each with a unique distribution. On Earth such clays can occur in a variety of setting, including weathered volcanic rocks and hydrothermal systems, where volcanic activity and water interact.

Image TRA_000847_2055 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on Sunday, 02 October 2006. The complete image is centered at 25.3 degrees latitude, 340.7 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 287.0 km (179.3 miles). At this distance the image scale ranges from 28.7 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) to 114.8 cm/pixel (with 4 x 4 binning). The image shown here [below] has been map-projected to 25 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:23 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 46 degrees, thus the sun was about 44 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 114.4 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.

HiRISE Product ID: TRA_000847_2055_IRB

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
Thumbnail JPG 512 x 452 40.4 KBytes
Full Scale JPG 915 x 808 113.7 KBytes
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Image Product Pixel Dimensions File Size
Thumbnail JPG 512 x 300 100 KBytes
Browse Scale JPG 2048 x 1190 813.8 KBytes
Full Scale JPG 23986 x 14070 40 MBytes
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