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20.01.2012

Highlight of the Month January: Mawrth Vallis Animation


This month we present a fly-over of Marwth Vallis - a large outflow channel north of the Martian highland-lowland dichotomy boundary. Most likely the more than 600 kilometers long and up to 2 kilometers deep valley was formed by liquid water. Special interest in Mawrth Vallis arose after data of the OMEGA spectrometer onboard the ESA spacecraft Mars Express revealed the existence of iron and aluminum rich clay minerals. Comparable minerals on Earth usually result from weathering of volcanic rocks and form in hydrothermal systems (e.g. the interaction of a thermal source and water).

The sedimentation of clay minerals requires a standing body of water or at least very low flow rates; otherwise the very tiny clay particle will be kept in suspension by the currents. It is possible that Mawrth Vallis used to be such a standing body of water in the past. The existence of liquid water as one of the prerequisites for life pushes Mawrth Vallis into the center of attention in answering the question whether Mars ever harbored life.

Best ground resolution of the nadir is about 25 m/pixel. For the shown sequence four HRSC orbits were used. The animation was created using the software LightWave.

Video: Copyright ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

[Download Movie (AVI)]  (with rightclick and "Save as...")
[Download Movie (MOV)]  (with rightclick and "Save as...")


The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) experiment on the ESA Mars Express Mission is led by the Principal Investigator (PI) Prof. Dr. Gerhard Neukum who also designed the camera technically. The science team of the experiment consists of 40 Co-Investigators from 33 institutions and 10 nations. The camera was developed at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) under the leadership of the PI G. Neukum and built in cooperation with industrial partners (EADS Astrium, Lewicki Microelectronic GmbH and Jena-Optronik GmbH). The experiment on Mars Express is operated by the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, through ESA/ESOC. The systematic processing of the HRSC image data is carried out at DLR. The scenes shown here were created by the PI-group at the Institute for Geological Sciences of the Freie Universitaet Berlin.

 

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20.01.2012

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