Sandstone Cliffs and Hematite Lag Deposits of Ophir Mensa
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Sandstone Cliffs and Hematite Lag Deposits of Ophir Mensa
PSP_002208_1755  Science Theme: 
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This target was one of the first close HiRISE views of the enigmatic Valles Marineris interior layered deposits. These light-toned sedimentary deposits are of interest to scientists because they are partially composed of minerals like hematite that likely formed in the presence of liquid water.

The lighter-tone linear units to the north are called "yardangs" and formed when downslope winds carved the fragile sandstone into channels. Over time, wind and gravity conspire to erode material downslope and onto the canyon floor. The darker-toned sandy deposits at the cliff base contain high concentrations of hematite (along with basaltic or volcanic sand) known from infrared orbital measurements.

HiRISE resolution can clearly show outcrops mass wasting finer materials out, and darker layers that are likely hematite-bearing units. This is an excellent candidate for what's called a "hematite lag deposit," where more resistant iron-rich hematite concretions have weathered out of the brittle mesa driven by gravity and wind, similar to that observed at the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity landing site.

Written by: Matthew Chojnacki (audio by Tre Gibbs)   (13 November 2013)

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Acquisition date
15 January 2007

Local Mars time:
15:40

Latitude (centered)
-4.479°

Longitude (East)
287.251°

Range to target site
266.0 km (166.3 miles)

Original image scale range
from 26.6 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) to 53.2 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning)

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection
Equirectangular

Emission angle:
0.0°

Phase angle:
56.0°

Solar incidence angle
56°, with the Sun about 34° above the horizon

Solar longitude
167.1°, Northern Summer

North azimuth:
97°

Sub-solar azimuth:
15.6°
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All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona



Postscript
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.