Stair-Stepped Layered Exposed in Gale Crater
Stair-Stepped Layered Exposed in Gale Crater
PSP_009927_1750  Science Theme: Sedimentary/Layering Processes
Gale Crater contains a massive central mound of layered material that has an average vertical thickness of almost 4 kilometers (2.4 miles), making it more than twice as thick as the layers exposed along the Grand Canyon on Earth. Gale Crater is approximately 152 km in diameter.

The subimage is a small portion of a HiRISE image detailing the fine-scale layering evident in the upper mound. The layered deposits can be divided into two types: a lower mound with near-horizontal, flat layers, and an upper mound with more numerous, thinner layers (some of which have greater degree of tilt than the lower layers).

The origin of these thin, repetitive layers is unknown, but they likely reflect environmental changes that occurred while the layers were being deposited. Today, erosion by wind scour has shaped them into the stair-step pattern that is reminiscent of parts of the American Southwest.

Written by: Brad Thomson  (22 October 2008)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_008002_1750.
Acquisition date
08 September 2008

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
265.8 km (165.2 miles)

Original image scale range
29.0 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~87 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
60°, with the Sun about 30° above the horizon

Solar longitude
124.0°, Northern Summer

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  94°
Sub-solar azimuth:  34.3°
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   (1107MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (576MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (535MB)
non-map           (474MB)

IRB color
map projected  (169MB)
non-map           (379MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (269MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (261MB)

RGB color
non map           (371MB)
Map-projected, reduced-resolution
Full resolution JP2 download
Anaglyph 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.