Mystery Mounds
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Mystery Mounds
PSP_008778_1685  Science Theme: Hydrothermal Processes
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This image was targeted because a previous MOC image (R1100035) showed a distinctive field of mounds on the floor of an ancient, large, filled-in crater.

The origin of the mounds was unclear, so we hoped that a HiRISE image with higher resolution and color would solve the mystery. The HiRISE image shows much more detail on the mounds and other rough textures, indicating that this is an eroded bedrock surface, perhaps exposed by removal of an overlying layer of fine-grained materials by the wind.

But how did the rocks form, and why did they erode onto mounds? It could have been lava or impact ejecta or fluvial sediments, perhaps altered and indurated by groundwater. The mounds could be due to how it was deposited—like hummocky impact ejecta—or how it was indurated. In other words, we haven't solved the mystery!

Yet we may get new clues from future images of similar terrains in places where the origin is more interpretable, or from other datasets such as the mineral content determined by CRISM.

Written by: Alfred McEwen   (24 July 2008)

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Acquisition date:10 June 2008 Local Mars time:15:22
Latitude (centered):-11.234° Longitude (East):187.682°
Range to target site:265.9 km (166.2 miles)Original image scale range:26.6 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~80 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:25 cm/pixel and North is upMap projection:Equirectangular
Emission angle:4.3° Phase angle:58.2°
Solar incidence angle:61°, with the Sun about 29° above the horizon Solar longitude:83.5°, Northern Spring

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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.