A Sedimentary Fan in Southeast Gale Crater
A Sedimentary Fan in Southeast Gale Crater
ESP_079699_1740  Science Theme: Fluvial Processes
Gale Crater is well-known as the landing site of NASA’s Curiosity rover, which has explored the northwest crater floor since 2012. But the entire crater is full of fascinating geology, some beyond the rover’s reach.

This image covers a fan of sedimentary rock on the southeast crater floor. Ridges on the fan surface may be composed of coarse-grained sediment deposited in ancient streams. More recent wind erosion of the surrounding finer sediments could have left these channel deposits elevated in “inverted relief.” A closeup shows some of these ridges, as well as light-toned layers of sediment exposed along the fan edge.

The fan is also punctured by scattered circular impact craters. One of these craters appears to have a circular deposit of sedimentary rock filling its floor, suggesting that it formed during the span of time that streams were active here. Features like this help scientists to infer the geologic history of the region.

Written by: James Wray (narration: Tre Gibbs)  (12 December 2023)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_079844_1740.
Acquisition date
28 July 2023

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
267.6 km (166.3 miles)

Original image scale range
27.5 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~82 cm across are resolved

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25 cm/pixel and North is up

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Solar incidence angle
61°, with the Sun about 29° above the horizon

Solar longitude
96.9°, Northern Summer

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North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  39.7°
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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’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.