Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Mars: Colorful Surface near Nili Fossae | NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Mars: Colorful Surface near Nili Fossae | NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

This enhanced-color image shows a surface with diverse colors just southwest of Nili Fossae. The color diversity of this mesa suggests that the surface has a varied composition, perhaps recording chemical processes of ancient Mars. The image was captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) using the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument. MRO has orbited the Red Planet since 2006.

Nili Fossae is a group of large, concentric grabens on Mars, in the Syrtis Major quadrangle. They have been eroded and partly filled in by sediments and clay-rich ejecta from a nearby giant impact crater, the Isidis basin. In geology, a graben is a depressed block of the crust of a planet, bordered by parallel normal faults.

Much of the surface shows a chaotic mix of colors, but the northern impact crater exposes distinct layers. Different layers have different colors. There are several possible reasons for this: the events that formed the layers could have drawn material from different sources, or the layers could have been altered differently after they formed, for reasons such as varying porosity.

Image cutout is less than 1 km (under a mile) from top to bottom and north is to the left. The spacecraft altitude was 279 km (173 mi). 

Malin Space Science Systems built the Mars Color Imager (MARCI), Context Camera (CTX) systems for MRO.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado. 

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Release Date: September 20, 2022

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