Scaled Image

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/ASU

About this image

White Rock is the unofficial name for this unusual landform which was first observed during the Mariner 9 mission in the early 1970's. As later analysis of additional data sets would show, White Rock is neither white nor dense rock. Its apparent brightness arises from the fact that the material surrounding it is so dark. Images from the Mars Global Surveyor MOC camera revealed dark sand dunes surrounding White Rock and on the floor of the troughs within it. Some of these dunes are just apparent in the THEMIS image. Although there was speculation that the material composing White Rock could be salts from an ancient dry lakebed, spectral data from the MGS TES instrument did not support this claim. Instead, the White Rock deposit may be the erosional remnant of a previously more continuous occurrence of air fall sediments, either volcanic ash or windblown dust. The THEMIS image offers new evidence for the idea that the original deposit covered a larger area.Approximately 10 kilometers to the southeast of the main deposit are some tiny knobs of similarly bright material preserved on the floor of a small crater. Given that the eolian erosion of the main White Rock deposit has produced isolated knobs at its edges, it is reasonable to suspect that the more distant outliers are the remnants of a once continuous deposit that stretched at least to this location. The fact that so little remains of the larger deposit suggests that the material is very easily eroded and simply blows away.

Please see the THEMIS Data Citation Note for details on crediting THEMIS images. 


Image ID: 
V01061002 (View data in Mars Image Explorer)
2002-03-11 14:18
Fri, 2002-04-19
1024 pixels (18 km)
3648 pixels (64 km)
0.017587 km/pixel
0.017715 km/pixel


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