Nili Fossae Trough, Candidate MSL Landing Site
Nili Fossae Trough, Candidate MSL Landing Site
PSP_003086_2015  Science Theme: Future Exploration/Landing Sites
The Nili Fossae region of Mars is one of the largest exposures of clay minerals discovered by the OMEGA spectrometer on Mars Express and mapped in greater detail by the CRISM spectrometer on MRO (see the gallery).

In the HiRISE IRB color, dark blue regions are basaltic in composition, including sand-sized material that bounces around in the wind to form dunes. Basalt in the most common type of volcanic rock on the Earth and other terrestrial planets.

The light-toned areas (with a variety of colors) and covered by small-scale fractures is the clay-rich material. Clay minerals contain hydrogen and oxygen (i.e., water) within their mineral structure, and may also preserve organic materials, so there is great interest in studying these deposits to understand past environments that could have supported life.

We are also releasing a video produced by the digital animation group at JPL, scrolling from south to north over this image, as a simulation of the view from the MRO spacecraft.The colors have been specially enhanced for this video, beyond the standard enhancements applied to all HiRISE color images. A sample of the enhanced color is shown here; the purple areas are basaltic materials, orange areas are rich in clays, and the blue-green patches are outcops of unaltered rocks rich in the mineral pyroxene. This would be a wonderful place for detailed exploration by a rover like MSL.

Written by: Alfred McEwen  (10 October 2007)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_003587_2015.
Acquisition date
24 March 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
279.7 km (173.9 miles)

Original image scale range
28.2 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~85 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
62°, with the Sun about 28° above the horizon

Solar longitude
206.4°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  339.6°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (1405MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (713MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (659MB)
non-map           (758MB)

IRB color
map projected  (281MB)
non-map           (568MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (319MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (322MB)

RGB color
non map           (535MB)
Map-projected, reduced-resolution
Full resolution JP2 download
Anaglyph details page

DTM details page

B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

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.