Possible Salt Deposits in Noachis Terra
Possible Salt Deposits in Noachis Terra
PSP_006649_1615  Science Theme: Composition and Photometry
The THEMIS instrument onboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft identified a possible salt deposit in this area, based on the infrared colors of the ground. Salt deposits typically form when water evaporates, suggesting that this might have once been an area favorable for life on Mars.

The possible salt deposit is the slightly lighter-colored area in the center of the image. The light-colored material is found peeking out from underneath sand dunes between small ridges and knobs of more tan colored material in the enhanced color data. This suggests that the (possibly) salty layer was buried by other materials and then exposed by erosion.

This layer also exhibits a fracture pattern similar to clay-rich materials visible elsewhere on Mars. It is interesting that this layer is also relatively devoid of boulders, suggesting that it is made up of some weak material.

Written by: Laszlo P. Keszthelyi  (30 January 2008)
Acquisition date
27 December 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
258.5 km (160.7 miles)

Original image scale range
25.9 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~78 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

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Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
43°, with the Sun about 47° above the horizon

Solar longitude
8.8°, Northern Spring

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North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  32.1°
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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.