Reading the Geologic Record
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Reading the Geologic Record
ESP_017013_1890  Science Theme: Sedimentary/Layering Processes
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This observation shows a series of parallel layers eroding into peculiar knobs and hills.

These sedimentary rocks were imaged on the floor of a large crater located at 8.8 degrees North, 358.3 degrees East. Similar rock units are found within several nearby craters also imaged by HiRISE, as seen in images PSP_001902_1890, ESP_013611_1910, and PSP_002733_1880. The occurrence of similar layers in each of these locations may indicate that they were once part of a much more extensive geologic unit that has now been largely eroded away.

One particularly interesting aspect of the layers in this image is their repetitive nature. Each layer appears to be nearly the same thickness throughout the outcrop, as has also been observed in other nearby layered units. This cyclic nature points to a formation process which occurred repeatedly, building up the deposit layer by layer. However, the exact formation mechanism and the climate cycle possibly responsible for forming the layers here remain unknown.

Studying the record exposed in rocks like these can help reveal secrets of the ancient Martian climate.

Written by: Kevin Lewis   (28 April 2010)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_016657_1890.

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Acquisition date:14 March 2010 Local Mars time:15:02
Latitude (centered):8.821° Longitude (East):358.314°
Range to target site:278.5 km (174.1 miles)Original image scale range:27.9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~84 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:25 cm/pixel and North is upMap projection:Equirectangular
Emission angle:9.1° Phase angle:53.8°
Solar incidence angle:46°, with the Sun about 44° above the horizon Solar longitude:63.7°, Northern Spring

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For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., 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. The image data were processed using the U.S. Geological Survey’s ISIS3 software.