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diagram of MRO during Mars Orbital Insertion
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Artist's concept of MRO during Mars Orbital Insertion
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artist's concept of MRO over the martian landscape
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artist concept of MRO's approach to Mars
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Members of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team cheer during the Mar. 10, 2006, successful orbit insertion. On right, project manager Jim Graf shakes hand. In the middle, Fuk Li, Director of JPL's Mars Exploration Directorate. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Test image taken by MRO´ HiRISE camera on March 24, 2006, from an altitude of 2,489 kilometers (1,547 miles). The scene covers an area 49.8 kilometers (30.9 miles) wide and 23.6 kilometers (11.7 miles) high. The location is 34 degrees south latitude, 305 degrees east longitude. An old crater is in the middle, with sets of channels to the left and right. Superimposed on the landscape are many small sharp-rimmed impact craters and wind-blown dunes.
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This view shows a detail of the first HiRISE test image (the portion indicated in the first image by a white box). This image covers an area about 4.5 by 2.1 kilometers (1.6 by 1.3 miles). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ University of Arizona
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First color image from the HiRISE camera. The picture is nearly 24 kilometers wide and covers an area in the Bosporos Planum region of southern Mars.
Credit: HIROC-LPL, MRO, JPL-Caltech, NASA
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First test image by the Context Camera. Chaotic terrain at the east end of Mars' Valles Marineris is along the top of the image. The scale of about 87 meters (285 feet) per pixel is 14.5 times lower resolution than will be acquired during the primary science phase.
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Perspective view, generated from digital topography, of the first color image from the HiRISE camera. Image has a field of view 55 degrees wide, and no vertical exaggeration. The overview illustrates how the ridge has deformed several valleys and impact craters. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ University of Arizona/USGS.
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Artist concept of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter during aerobraking. Image credit: NASA/JPL
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The Mars Color Imager (MARCI) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter acquired a seven-band color, wide-angle view of Mars on March 24, 2006, as part of a checkout of the orbiter's payload. This image shows a color composite made from the MARCI red, green, and blue bands. The view looks northward and includes the large Argyre Basin in Mars' southern hemisphere. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS
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Artist concept of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter during deployment of its radar antenna. Image credit: NASA/JPL
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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reached its science orbit over Mars' poles on Sept. 11. The HiRISE camera and other experiments begin doing science in early November. (Artists' illustration: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)
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Valles Marineris, Mars
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This image shows one of the first regions of Mars measured after CRISM's cover was opened. The image is part of the second multispectral survey strip, taken at 22:36 UTC (6:36 p.m. EDT) on Sept. 27, 2006. Only minimal processing of the data has been done at this early point in the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's mission. The strip crosses part of the north polar region named Olympia Undae, and stretches between 76.7 north latitude, 141.9 east longitude and 85.5 north, 115.8 east. From the left, the northern end of the image crosses layers of dusty and clean ice in the north polar cap. Moving south (right) the image covers dusty sedimentary deposits, dark sand dunes, and outlying polar ice deposits. The banner shown above has been rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise and covers only the northernmost part of the full image. Click here for more information about the image and to view the full product. Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL
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CRISM team members (from left) Teck Choo, Melissa Wirzburger and Kevin Heffernan, CRISM Principal Investigator Scott Murchie, former APL Space Department Head Tom Krimigis and APL Civilian Space Business Area Executive Walt Faulconer celebrate upon hearing that CRISM´ protective cover had opened. CRISM, designed and built at APL, is one of six science instruments on NASA´ Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, now circling the red planet.
Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL)
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MRO´ High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) acquired this image on September 29, 2006. The image scale is 29.7 centimeters per pixel (about 12 inches per pixel). This sub-image covers a small portion of the floor of Ius Chasma, one branch of the giant Valles Marineris system of canyons. There are bedrock exposures of layered materials, which could be sedimentary rocks deposited in water or from the air. Some of the bedrock has been faulted and folded, perhaps the result of large-scale forces in the crust or from a giant landslide. The darker unit of material at right includes many rocks. The image resolves rocks as small as small as 90 centimeters (3 feet) in diameter. At bottom right are a few dunes or ridges of windblown sand.
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MRO´ High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) acquired this image during its first day of test imaging from the spacecraft's low-altitude mapping orbit, Sept. 29, 2006. This image of Mars' north polar layered deposits was taken during the summer season (solar longitude of 113.6 degrees), when carbon dioxide frost had evaporated from the surface. The bright spots seen here are most likely patches of water frost, but the location of the frost patches does not appear to be controlled by topography. Layers are visible at the bottom of the image, mostly due to difference in slope between them. The variations in slope are probably caused by differences in the physical properties of the layers. Thinner layers that have previously been observed in these deposits are visible, and may represent annual deposition of water ice and dust that is thought to form the polar layered deposits. These deposits are thought to record global climate variations on Mars, similar to ice ages on Earth. The image is centered at 86.5 degree latitude, 172.0 degrees east longitude. The image scale is 59.8 centimeters (23.5 inches) per pixel (with two-by-two binning} so objects about 1.79 meters (70 inches) across are resolved.
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This HiRISE image covers a small portion of the floor of Ius Chasma, one branch of the giant Valles Marineris system of canyons. The image illustrates a variety of processes that have shaped the Martian surface. There are bedrock exposures of layered materials, which could be sedimentary rocks deposited in water or from the air. Some of the bedrock has been faulted and folded, perhaps the result of large-scale forces in the crust or from a giant landslide. The darker unit of material at right includes many rocks. The image scale is 25 cm/pixel (about 10 inches/pixel). The image resolves rocks as small as 90 cm (3 feet) in diameter. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:30 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 59.7 degrees, thus the sun was about 30.3 degrees above the horizon.
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This HiRISE image shows exposures of light- and dark-toned layers of rock that have been faulted and folded. These rocks formed out of sedimentary deposits that originally accumulated in thick horizontal sequences, like a layer cake. These layers have since been tilted on-end and eroded, exposing the sequence of layers that we now see at the surface. A prominent dark layer extends through the center of the scene from the upper right to the lower left of the image. This dark layer is discontinuous and offset along a fault. The thin grey zone that extends from the upper left to the lower right of the image delineates the fault plane. This fault was originally a thrust, or compressional fault, that formed prior to the aforementioned tilting event. Tilting of this fault and the surrounding rock reveals a series of drag folds adjacent to the fault plane. These drag folds formed as the layered rock bent in response to friction along the fault plane as the thrust fault formed, prior to the tilting event. This fault offsets the dark layer by a maximum of 70-75 m. Smaller secondary folds and faults are also visible in this scene. The smallest resolved fault offset of an individual rock layer is 1-1.5 m. Also visible in this image are numerous small 4-10-m-diameter impact craters that are surrounded by ejecta of meter-scale boulders.
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The prominent trough in this HiRISE image is a segment of the Cerberus Fossae rift system. The trough is known as a graben, or down-dropped region bounded by faults. In this location the graben is about 300 m wide and 90 m deep. Bright, dust-covered, cratered plains surround the graben, and darker sediments blanket much of its floor. Dunes that vary in size and spacing occur within the darker sediments, and their shapes suggest that the wind typically blows from east to west. Light-toned, angular boulders pepper the darker sediments. They have broken away from the rocky walls of the graben and tumbled downhill. Over time this mass wasting has caused the cliffs to retreat, widening the trough. The somewhat lighter patches of cratered terrain on the graben floor were once level with the surrounding plains, but have since been lowered by faulting. Over time they may become obscured or buried by the darker sediments. High-standing ridges–”remnants of the former surface–”cast jagged shadows on the floor of the graben that reveal the rugged nature of the landscape in this region of Mars. The image scale is 55 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~165 cm across are resolved. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:26 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 51.9 degrees, thus the sun was about 38.1 degrees above the horizon.
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This HiRISE image covers a portion of an outcrop of the Medusae Fossae Formation, a series of light-toned terrains in the Martian mid-latitudes. The Medusae Fossae is characterized by wind-sculpted landforms, most notably eroded ridges known as yardangs. The composition of the Medusae Fossae is not known, but candidates include indurated (hardened) volcanic ash or remnants of dust-ice mixtures that formed in a different Martian climate. Three prominent yardangs are seen in this image, aligned with their long axes pointing NW-SE, with tapered ends on the NW, consistent with erosion from a southeasterly wind. One or more hard rocky layers within the yardangs are visible, with the layers commonly segregated into discreet boulders. Isolated rocks are seen on the slopes and at the base of the yardangs, indicating that some formed from breakup of the layers. The rocks may be similar in composition to the softer, non-rocky parts of the yardangs, but simply more indurated. Alternatively, they may be compositionally distinct, challenging current hypotheses for the origin of the Medusae Fossae. Light-toned ridges at center left have a gross morphology similar to that of barchanoid dunes formed from wind-blown sand. If these are dunes or ripples, their orientation is consistent with the presumed wind direction that carved the yardangs. However, zooming in to full resolution reveals flat tops, grooves, and smaller, darker ripple forms to the northwest of the ridges. Therefore if these are dunes, they seem indurated. The image scale is 27 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~81 cm across are resolved. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:27 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 55.2 degrees, thus the Sun was about 34.8 degrees above the horizon.
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This HiRISE image is located near an area under consideration as a landing site for the Mars Phoenix lander mission. A network of shallow surface troughs and fissures coalesce into polygonal patterns. Polygonal patterned ground of this nature is common in permafrost regions of Earth, where seasonal thermal contraction of ice-cemented soil produces a honeycomb network of subsurface cracks. Cracks of this nature can also be produced by desiccation (mud cracks) or lava cooling (columnar joints), though typically on a smaller scale. The diameter of these martian polygons are dominantly 10-20 meters, analogous to terrestrial permafrost. The individual troughs are frequently only a couple of meters or less wide. Other characteristics, such as small ridges on either side of the troughs and the distribution of rocks in and around each polygon, are readily apparent. Small rocks and occasional larger boulders are also seen scattered throughout the image. Rocks protruding above the surface soil can be seen to cast shadows (solar illumination is from the lower left), which can aid in the determination of the rock's size and height. The image scale is 32 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~96 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 75 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:01 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 53.4 degrees, thus the sun was about 35.1 degrees above the horizon.
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This HiRISE image shows geologic "contacts", or boundaries, between light-toned and dark-toned material in Meridiani Planum, near the equator of Mars. Merdiani Planum is where the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is located, although this image covers an area that is more than 600 km to the east of the Opportunity site. The central portion of the image shows very smooth, dark plains that are typical of much of the Meridiani region. These plains are flanked by more rugged lighter-toned materials. The light-toned materials have been eroded to form pits, buttes and mesas. Based on the lengths of the shadows that they cast, some of the buttes and mesas are up to about 30 meters (~100 feet) tall. The light-toned material shows distinctive layering, suggesting that it may be composed of sedimentary rock. Scattered across the scene, especially in the light-toned materials where they are prominent in low spots and around some of the larger buttes and mesas, are dunes and other similar landforms created by martian winds. The image scale is 54 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~162 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 50 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:28 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 55.3 degrees, thus the sun was about 34.7 degrees above the horizon.
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This HiRISE sub-image covers a small portion of Aram Chaos, which is thought to be a degraded impact crater that was once filled with water and sedimentary units. The term "chaos" refers to the cracks and angled blocks formed perhaps by withdrawl of subsurface material. This image illustrates the modification of the crater by fracturing, younger impact craters, and wind. A linear fracture cuts through the center of the image while a more sinuous depression filled with bright ripples or dunes is located towards the bottom of the image. Both depressions could have resulted from collapse associated with modification of the impact crater that created Aram Chaos or later disruption when water and sediment covered some of the crater floor. Impact craters of many shapes and sizes can be seen across the image, indicating a relatively older surface that has seen little modification since its formation. The bright ripples or dunes appear to cluster in low-lying topography, such as the sinuous depression and a larger impact crater in the lower right of the image, suggesting that wind has moved fine material along the surface until it becomes trapped in low spots where it collects to form ripples or dunes. The image scale is 55 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~165 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 50 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:27 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 53.8 degrees, thus the sun was about 36.2 degrees above the horizon.
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This HiRISE sub-image is located on the southern margin of Elysium Planitia, in the equatorial region of Mars. A scarp (cliff) winds through the scene, dividing the lower knobby terrain to the southwest from the higher terrain to the northeast. The scarp offers a glimpse into the material that underlies the higher terrain. No prominent layers are seen in the vertical face of the scarp, and boulders have not accumulated around its base. This suggests that the elevated northeastern terrain is not made of hard rock; however, it is also possible that rocks are present but buried under sediments. Several of the impact craters in the northern part of the sub-image are "pedestal craters," which have fragmented material that was thrown out of the crater upon impact. But the ejecta was not always raised like this. Being more resistant to erosion, it was left high-standing after the surrounding material was removed, probably by wind. In addition to being raised, the ejecta around these craters is asymmetric - it is skewed towards the southeast. This might be because the craters formed when objects struck the surface of Mars at an angle, or perhaps erosion has preferentially removed the ejecta on the northwest sides of the impact craters. The knobby terrain southwest of the scarp is riddled with wind-blown dunes. The dunes radiate out around the bases of the knobs indicating that they are more strongly influenced by local topography than regional winds. Small boulders on the flanks of a few knobs reveal that they contain rocky material. The image scale is 59 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~178 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 50 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:28 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 54.9 degrees, thus the sun was about 35.1 degrees above the horizon.
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This MARCI image is a composite mosaic of the north polar cap, taken at midnight, 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. local Martian time. This is possible because during summer the sun is always shining in the polar region. It shows the mostly water-ice perennial cap (white area), sitting atop the north polar layered materials (light tan immediately adjacent to the ice), and the dark circumpolar dunes. This view shows the region poleward of about 72 degrees north latitude. The data were acquired at about 900 meters (about 3,000 feet) per pixel. Three channels are shown here, centered on wavelengths of 425 nanometers, 550 nanometers and 600 nanometers. Image credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS
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This enhanced-color view shows gullies in an unnamed crater in the Terra Sirenum region of Mars. Credit: NASA
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This HiRISE image shows the landing site of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. The prominent impact crater on the right-hand side of the image is "Endurance crater" where Opportunity spent about ten months of its now nearly three-year mission. (Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
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This HiRISE image covers a portion of a delta that partially fills Eberswalde crater in Margaritifer Sinus. The delta was first recognized and mapped using MOC images that revealed various features whose presence required sustained flow and deposition into a lake that once occupied the crater. The HiRISE image resolves meter-scale features that record the migration of channels and delta distributaries as the delta grew over time. Differences in grain-size of sediments within the environments on the delta enable differential erosion of the deposits. As a result, coarser channel deposits are slightly more resistant and stand in relief relative to finer-grained over-bank and more easily eroded distal delta deposits. (Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
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Hundreds of enigmatic small troughs are seen to carve into the slopes of these dark sand dunes lying within Russell Crater on Mars. These features were previously identified as gullies in images from the Mars Orbiter Camera on Mars Global Surveyor, but the higher resolution HiRISE image brings out many new details and mysteries. The troughs extend from near the top of the dunes to their bases, indicating that some fluid material carved into the sand. One hypothesis for the origin of these troughs, which has been previously been proposed by the MOC team, is that CO2 (or maybe H2O) frost is deposited on the dunes in shadows or at night. Some frost may also be incorporated into the internal parts of the dunes due to natural avalanching. When the frost is eventually heated by sunlight, rapid sublimation triggers an avalanche of fluidized displaced sand, forming a gully. HiRISE will continue to target small trough features such as these and may return to search for any changes over time. (Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
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The bright irregularly-shaped feature in area "a" of the image is Opportunity´ parachute, now lying on the martian surface. Near the parachute is the cone-shaped "backshell" that helped protect Opportunity´ lander during its seven-month journey to Mars. Dark surface material may have been disturbed when the backshell touched down, exposing the lighter-toned materials seen next to the backshell. (Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
Area "B" of the image shows the impact point and the broken remnants of Opportunity´ heat shield. The heat shield protected the vehicle during its fiery descent through the martian atmosphere, and then was released from the spacecraft during the final stages of the descent, breaking into two pieces when it hit the martian surface. Also visible is the small crater formed at the heat shield´ impact point. Opportunity visited the heat shield during its drive southward from Endurance crater. (Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
Area "C" of the image shows "Eagle crater", the small martian impact crater where Opportunity´ airbag-cushioned lander came to rest. The lander is still clearly visible on the floor of the crater. Opportunity spent about 60 martian days exploring rock outcrops and soils in Eagle crater before setting off to explore more of Meridiani Planum. (Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
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Opportunity at Victoria Crater November 30, 2006. Credit: NASA
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Spirit landing site. Credit: NASA
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Viking 1 heat shield. Credit: NASA
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Viking 2 back shell. Credit: NASA
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Layers Exposed at Polar Canyon
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This image shows the Pathfinder lander on Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona
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MRO captured this detailed image of Dunes in Proctor Crater, located in the southern hemisphere of Mars. Scientists think the bright tones are carbon dioxide or water frost. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

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Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) images were
acquired over the northern plains of Mars near one of the possible
landing sites for NASA's Phoenix mission, set to launch in August 2007.
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The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this image of the largest
fan in Holden crater when the orbiter was flying about 162 miles over the surface in
March 2007. Geologists discovered a complex geologic history for the site, including
two wet episodes that may have been amenable to life. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of
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This is a more detailed close-up view of the HiRISE image of Holden crater. It shows
layers revealed when Holden crater rim was breached, unleashing water that scoured
out parts of Holden crater. From the bottom up, these include the base of impac
megabreccia, contrasting smooth sedimentary layers, another darker, crudely layered
unit, and dark wind-blown material on the surface. These layers correspond to layers
in the illustrative drawing, above left. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)
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This schematic drawing shows impact megabreccia, the lowest layer, topped by
clay-containing lake sediment layers, and again topped again by sediments deposited
when the Holden crater rim was breached early in Mars history.
Credit: University of Arizona
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Larger image of Holden crater. Holden crater is an impact crater that formed within an older, multi-ringed impact basin called Holden basin. Before an impact created Holden crater, large channels crossed and deposited sediments in Holden basin. Blocks as big as 50 meters across were blasted from Holden basin when Holden crater formed, then fell chaotically back to the surface and eventually formed "megabreccia," a conglomeration of large, broken boulders mixed with smaller particles. HiRISE images show megabreccia outcrops in Holden crater walls. This megabreccia may be some of the oldest deposits exposed on the surface of Mars. At least 5 percent, by weight, of the fine sediments in the layer on top of the megabreccia consists of clay, according to another instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, or CRISM. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.
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This artist´ impression shows the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter above the martian north pole.
Image credit: NASA/JPL
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NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed martian rocks containing a hydrated mineral similar to opal. The rocks are light-toned and appear cream-colored in this false-color image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera. Images acquired by the orbiter reveal that different layers of rock have different properties and chemistry. The opal minerals are located in distinct beds of rock outside of the large Valles Marineris canyon system and are also found in rocks within the canyon. The presence of opal in these relatively young rocks tells scientists that water, possibly as rivers and small ponds, interacted with the surface as recently as two billion years ago, one billion years later than scientists had expected. The discovery of this new category of minerals spread across large regions of Mars suggests that liquid water played an important role in shaping the planet's surface and possibly hosting life. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Ariz.
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Carbonate, which is indicative of a wet and non-acidic history, occurs in very small patches of exposed rock appearing green in this color representation of an area about 20 kilometers (12 miles) wide on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS/Brown University
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