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6th Year Anniversary Graphic
6th Year Anniversary Graphic
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Mars Exploration Technology
Mars Exploration Technology
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Rover-team members at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., check slight movements by a test rover during tests simulating the challenge of getting NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit out of a sand trap on Mars. From left: Alfonso Herrera, Matt Van Kirk, Mike Seibert, Brenda Franklin.
Sandbox Testing to Prepare for Driving Spirit
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MRO orbiter
MRO orbiter
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An artist's concept portrays a NASA Mars Exploration Rover on the surface of Mars.
Artist's Concept of Rover on Mars
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Mars
Mars Image
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Gullies and Flow Features on Crater Wall
Gullies and Flow Features on Crater Wall
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Impact craters on Mars are kind of neat. Many of them look very different than impact craters seen on Earth's moon or Mercury. Fresh lunar and Mercurian craters have ejecta blankets that look a bit rough near the crater rims; around larger craters, long rays or chains of secondary craters radiate away from the crater rims. Some Martian craters are similar to these craters, but Mars also has a high proportion of craters with forms not found on the moon or Mercury: rampart craters.
Distal Rampart of Crater in Chryse Planitia
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Continuing our survey of non-crater dune fields brings us to this group of dunes in Aonia Terra. The daytime IR illustrates the warmth of the dune material compared to the surrounding materials.
Aonia Terra Dunes
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This is an unlabeled radargram from the Shallow Radar instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, showing a cross-section of Mars' north polar cap, based on time lags of radio-wave echoes returning from different layers.
Radargram (unlabeled)
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This is a radargram from the Shallow Radar instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, showing a cross-section of Mars' north polar cap, based on time lags of radio-wave echoes returning from different layers.
Radargram (labeled)
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Polar Layered Deposits Stratigraphy Near Chasma Australe
Polar Layered Deposits Stratigraphy Near Chasma Australe
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This telescopic view from orbit around Mars catches a Martian dust devil in action in the planet's southern hemisphere.
Martian Dust Devil with Track and Shadow
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This view of a rock called "Block Island," the largest meteorite yet found on Mars, comes from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on Opportunity.
'Block Island' Meteorite
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Well-Preserved Crater with Central Peak in Chryse Planitia
Well-Preserved Crater with Central Peak in Chryse Planitia
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Pastel colors swirl across Mars, revealing differences in the composition and nature of the surface in this false-color infrared image.
Improved Infrared Imaging from Changed Odyssey Orbit
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Gullies and Flow Features along Crater Wall in Promethei Terra
Gullies and Flow Features along Crater Wall in Promethei Terra
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This artist's concept shows a Mars outpost with vehicles astronauts would use to get around.
Humans Driving on Mars
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Syrtis Major Region
Syrtis Major Region
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This image shows an outcrop of the south polar layered deposits (SPLD). The SPLD consist of layers of ice and admixed dust and make up the bulk of the dome-shaped Planum Australe.

Planum Australe is, in some ways, analogous to the Antarctic ice sheet. Troughs and scarps carved into Planum Australe by erosional processes have exposed SPLD layers within it. In this image, the darkest area at the bottom of the image is the bottom of the scarp. Except for the dark material at the bottom of the slope, much of the changes in brightness in this image are due to the lighting angle, the direction from which the sun is illuminating the slope.

Much like ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica and deep sea sediment cores, the icy-dusty layers of the SPLD may have preserved a record of recent Mars climate history. Understanding that record is a complex process and involves, among many other types of analyses, examining the differences and similarities in appearance between each layer and attempting to classify layer types. This image shows nice examples of different layer textures. But what is especially interesting about this image are the faults cutting through the layers. These faults appear as diagonal lines, on either side of which, the layering is offset. Note that the faults are not clean, single lines, but appear in long groups of short lines.

What caused these faults is still under investigation, but, among other possibilities, they could be related to an earlier time when temperatures were higher and the ice was flowing at a much faster rate than it is today.
Troughs and Scarps in Planum Australe
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Geologically young gullies are a prime target for the HiRISE camera. Gullies are located in a variety of settings and are found all over Mars.

This "ring trough" or eroded pit crater, is located in the rugged southern highland terrain known as Noachis Terra. The HiRISE image shows the layered, boulder-rich wall rock facing to the northeast and gullies that are transporting material downslope.

The material collects into debris aprons along the walls, which often exhibit narrow channels along its surface.
Gullies on Southwest Slope of Ring Trough in Noachis Terra
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Impact Crater in Tempe Terra
Impact Crater in Tempe Terra
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Drainage Near Crater in Terra Sabaea.
Drainage Near Crater in Terra Sabaea
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Gullied Crater Slope with Rocky Outcrops Northeast of Hellas Region
Gullied Crater Slope with Rocky Outcrops Northeast of Hellas Region
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