Reading the Geologic Record
Reading the Geologic Record
ESP_017013_1890  Science Theme: Sedimentary/Layering Processes
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.
Acquisition date
14 March 2010

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
275.4 km (171.2 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 up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
46°, with the Sun about 44° above the horizon

Solar longitude
63.7°, Northern Spring

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  29.5°
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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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’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. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.