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Nili Fossae Trough Candidate MSL Landing Site
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Nili Fossae Trough, Candidate MSL Landing Site

December 21, 2010
The Nili Fossae region of Mars is one of the largest exposures of clay minerals discovered by the OMEGA spectrometer on Mars Express and mapped in greater detail by the CRISM spectrometer on MRO.

In the HiRISE IRB color, dark blue regions are basaltic in composition, including sand-sized material that bounces around in the wind to form dunes. Basalt in the most common type of volcanic rock on the Earth and other terrestrial planets.

The light-toned areas (with a variety of colors) and covered by small-scale fractures is the clay-rich material. Clay minerals contain hydrogen and oxygen (i.e., water) within their mineral structure, and may also preserve organic materials, so there is great interest in studying these deposits to understand past environments that could have supported life.

Written by: Alfred McEwen


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