Fretted Terrain Valley Floor
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Fretted Terrain Valley Floor

December 30, 2003
This December 2003 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows lineated textures on the floor of a valley in the Deuteronilus region of Mars. Deuteronilus, and neighboring Protonilus and Nilosyrtis, have been known since the Mariner 9 mission as regions of fretted terrain. In this context, fretted does not mean worried, it means eroded. The fretted terrains of Mars are regions along the boundary between cratered highlands and northern lowland plains that have been broken-down into mesas, buttes, and valleys. On the floors of some of these valleys occurs a distinctive lineated and pitted texture--like the example shown here. The cause of the textures is not known, although for decades some scientists have speculated that ice is involved. While this is possible, it is far from a demonstrated fact. This picture is located near 40.1°N, 335.1°W, and covers an area approximately 3 km (1.9 mi) wide; sunlight illuminates the scene from the lower left.

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