The White Cliffs of “Rover”
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
The White Cliffs of “Rover”
ESP_050282_1820  Science Theme: Geologic Contacts/Stratigraphy
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This image reminds us of the rugged and open terrain of a stark shore-line, perhaps of an island nation, such as the British Isles. A close-up in enhanced color produces a striking effect, giving the impression of a cloud-covered cliff edge with foamy waves crashing against it.

The reality is that the surface of Mars is much dryer than our imaginations might want to suggest. This is only a tiny part of a much larger structure; an inverted crater—a crater that has been infilled by material that is more resistant to erosion than the rocks around it—surrounded by bluish basaltic dunes. The edge of these elevated light-toned deposits is degraded, irregular and cliff-forming.

Dunes visible below the cliff, give the impression of an ocean surface, complete with foam capped waves crashing against the “shore line,” demonstrating the abstract similarity between the nature of a turbulent ocean and a Martian dune field.

Meridiani Planum has an overall smooth terrain, which starkly contrasts with the more common boulder- and crater-laden landscapes observed over much of the rest of Mars. This makes it relatively younger in character than many other areas of the planet. Meridiani is one of the Mars Exploration Rover landing sites, and, is known for its layers and sediments. The orbital detection of hematite was one of the main reasons for sending Opportunity to this area.

Salt-bearing rocks—also called sulphates—were observed in the very first image from Opportunity, so perhaps it’s apt that this HiRISE image reminds us of the turmoil and rugged beauty of a cliff-face, a coastline, being worn down by a relentless sea.

Written by: Jon Kissi, Livio L. Tornabene, Zach Morse, Eric Pilles and Gavin Tolometti (audio: Tre Gibbs)  (15 June 2017)
 
Acquisition date
18 April 2017

Local Mars time
14:04

Latitude (centered)
1.992°

Longitude (East)
6.910°

Spacecraft altitude
270.5 km (168.1 miles)

Original image scale range
54.7 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~164 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection
Equirectangular

Emission angle
8.9°

Phase angle
40.5°

Solar incidence angle
32°, with the Sun about 58° above the horizon

Solar longitude
351.4°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  355.8°
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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/JPL/University of Arizona

POSTSCRIPT
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.