October 9, 2009
This image is located near the equator and the prime meridian of Mars in a region called Terra Meridiani. This is a unique area of Mars that displays layers of material that appear to be in the process of being stripped away. This is exposing another layer of material directly underneath that is visible in the central portion of the image. Measurements from another instrument in orbit around Mars, the Thermal Emission Spectrometer on the Mars Global Surveyor, indicate that this region has a high concentration of a mineral called hematite. Grey hematite can form in both volcanic and water rich environments. It is not certain exactly how this mineral formed on Mars, but its presence along with the layering seen in this region makes this region of Mars particularly interesting. Among other possibilities, these layers could be volcanic ash deposits or plausibly sediments deposited in water. Small dunes can be found in depressions. This region of Mars is very old and whatever process took place here, it happened long ago.
Topics: Environment, Mars, Spacecraft, Space exploration, Sinus Meridiani, Oxia Palus quadrangle, Meridiani Planum, Mars Exploration Rover, Hematite