What is This Stuff?
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
What is This Stuff?
ESP_024886_1765  Science Theme: Sedimentary/Layering Processes
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This image covers plains near Aureum Chaos. A puzzling ridged texture was first seen in an image from the Context Camera on MRO, leading to this suggestion for a HiRISE image.

In this image we can see much detail, but the origin of the surface texture is still puzzling. The enhanced color subimage helps to correlate rock units, but is also puzzling.

Here's a hypothetical geologic history that might explain this scene: layered sediments were deposited by water or airfall (including volcanic pyroclastics). A crudely polygonal patterned ground was created by stresses in the sediments, and groundwater followed the fractures and deposited minerals that cemented the sediments. This was followed by perhaps billions of years of erosion by the wind, leaving the cemented fractures as high-standing ridges.

Of course, this story is almost certainly incomplete if not totally wrong.

Written by: Alfred McEwen   (4 January 2012)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_025308_1765.

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 Observation Toolbox
Acquisition date:17 November 2011 Local Mars time:14:37
Latitude (centered):-3.484° Longitude (East):335.540°
Range to target site:269.6 km (168.5 miles)Original image scale range:27.0 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~81 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:25 cm/pixel and North is upMap projection:Equirectangular
Emission angle:5.3° Phase angle:47.0°
Solar incidence angle:42°, with the Sun about 48° above the horizon Solar longitude:31.0°, 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.