Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

More evidence found suggesting water on Mars
Posted: November 20, 2000

NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, currently orbiting Mars, simultaneously snapped both a wide-angle and high-resolution view of Hale crater that show gullies -- possibly carved by water -- in the peaks of sand dunes inside the crater.

Wide-angle view giving context to below image. Photo: NASA/JPL/MSSS
The seasons on Mars and Earth are anti-correlated at present: days are getting shorter and shadows are getting longer as autumn ends and the beginning of winter draws nearer in the martian southern hemisphere, just as the same is occurring in Earth's northern hemisphere. Long shadows are especially prominent in this high resolution view of mountains forming part of the central peaks of Hale Crater (above), a 136 kilometer (85 mile) diameter impact crater at 36 deg S, 37 deg W.

The two pictures on this page were taken simultaneously by the Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera on November 10, 2000. The sun illuminates the scene from the northwest (upper left) about 22 deg above the horizon. Knowing the sun angle and the length of the longest shadow (~1.6 km; ~1.0 mi), the height of the largest peak in the high resolution view (below) is about 630 meters (~2,070 ft) above the crater floor.

High-resolution image from MGS. Photo: NASA/JPL/MSSS
Sand dunes blanket the middle portion of the high resolution view, and small gullies -- possibly carved by water -- can be seen on the slopes of some of the peaks at the upper left.

The high resolution view covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) wide at a full-resolution scale of 3 meters (9.8 ft) per pixel. Winter in the southern hemisphere will begin in mid-December 2000.

Mars Global Surveyor is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the Mars Orbiter Camera using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, CA. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, CA and Denver, CO.