Northwestern Branch of Mangala Vallis

Scaled Image

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/ASU

About this image

One of the many branches of the Mangala Vallis channel system is seen in this image. The water that likely carved the channels emerged from a huge graben or fracture almost 1000 km to the south. The THEMIS image shows where one of the channels exits the cratered highlands terrain onto the lowland plains. A bright scarp marks the transition between the two terrain types and demonstrates that in this location the highlands terrain is being eroded back. Note how the floor of the main channel appears to be at the same level as the lowland terrain, suggestive of a base level where erosion is no longer effective. Most of the steep slope faces in the image display darker slope streaks that are thought to be dust avalanche scars and indicate that a relatively thick mantle of dust is present in this region. Wind-sculpted ridges known as yardangs cover many of the surfaces throughout the area as shown by images from the Mars Global Surveyor mission. Most of them are at the limit of resolution in the THEMIS image but some are evident on the floor of the main channel at the point at which a smaller side channel enters. In this location they appear to extend right up to the base of the channel wall, giving the appearance that they are emerging from underneath the thick pile of material into which the channel is eroded. This suggests a geologic history in which a preexisting landscape of eroded yardangs was covered over by a thick pile of younger material that is now eroding back down to the original level. Alternatively, it is possible that the yardangs formed more recently at the abrupt transition between the channel floor and wall. More analysis is necessary to sort out the story.

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


Image ID: 
V01866002 (View data in Mars Image Explorer)
2002-05-16 20:44
Wed, 2002-06-12
1024 pixels (18 km)
3648 pixels (64 km)
0.017595 km/pixel
0.017723 km/pixel


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