Gullies on Gorgonum Chaos Mesas
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Gullies on Gorgonum Chaos Mesas
PSP_001948_1425  Science Theme: Fluvial Processes
Italian 


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This observation shows part of Gorgonum Chaos, a large cluster of chaotic terrain found in the southern hemisphere.

Many regions of chaotic terrain are found at the head of large outflow channels that were scoured by ancient floods. Gorgonum Chaos is one region that is not associated with an outflow channel.

Chaotic terrain can form when subsurface volatiles (such as water) are catastrophically released and the overlying surface collapses. It is not known whether isolated chaotic terrain—such as that shown in this image—formed in the same way that the chaotic terrain near the outflow channels did. Wind erosion might play a role in their formation.

Gorgonum Chaos is an especially interesting area because gullies thought to have been eroded by liquid water are located on its mesas (see subimage). The gullies have a wide range of orientations and many appear to emanate from a distinct layer in the mesas (see subimage).

It is not known why gullies form on one slope rather than another, but insolation (amount of sunlight received), availability of water, and regional slope are possible contributing factors.

Written by: Kelly Kolb   (7 July 2010)

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Acquisition date
26 December 2006

Local Mars time:
15:43

Latitude (centered)
-37.052°

Longitude (East)
189.529°

Range to target site
254.9 km (159.3 miles)

Original image scale range
25.5 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~77 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection
Equirectangular

Emission angle:
3.7°

Phase angle:
73.5°

Solar incidence angle
70°, with the Sun about 20° above the horizon

Solar longitude
156.4°, Northern Summer

North azimuth:
97°

Sub-solar azimuth:
35.4°
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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, 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.