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Strange terrain southwest of Jezero Crater

Strange terrain near Jezero Crater

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on June 16, 2022 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows what the scientists have merely label “landforms.”

I instead call them strange. Clearly we are seeing exposed layering that surrounds the mesa in the middle of the image. This in turn suggests that the mesa top was once the surface of this whole region, and that region had been formed by the repeated placement of multiple sedimentary layers. Then, over time the surrounding terrain was eroded away, exposing those underlying layers.

Even so, some of the parallel lines do not appear to be layers, but striations etched into the ground. To get a better look, the white box marks the area covered by a full resolution close-up below.

Close-up of striations

Overview map

I have enhanced the contrast to bring out the details. The downward grade should be to the northeast, but as you can see, in many places there does not appear to be any downward grade at all. Instead, we appear to be looking at a series of parallel lines, alternating light and dark.

If there is little or no grade, this could mean that at those locations the layers are actually almost vertical, so that we are looking down at their exposed ends. Under this hypothesis, the layers have mostly eroded equally, but the slight differences in their density has caused some to be slightly more resistant than others. This theory is strengthened by the shadows. Because the sunlight is coming from the west, the contrast between the lines oriented north-south in the lower right is greater. The lighter lines, likely ridges, stick up slightly, casting shadows on the adjacent lower rifts to the east. The contrast is less pronounced in the lines in the middle of the image, oriented mostly east-west, because the sunlight is reaching the bottoms of both the high and low lines.

The black dot on the overview map to the right tells us where this image is located on Mars, about fifty miles to the southwest of Jezero Crater where Perseverance is roving, and about 250 miles northeast of the caldera of the shield volcano Syrtis Major.

Orbital images and data has revealed that the region to the west of Jezero is extremely varied, with many minerals and strange formations not unlike today’s cool image. Though it is unlikely that Perseverance will ever reach this spot, there are numerous similar features much closer to the Jezero in this western region that the rover will surely reach in the coming years.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

One comment

  • Greg the Geologist

    Looks like sedimentary strata, conformable with the ridge to the ‘north’. Would be very helpful to have stereopair photos of these Martian features. As it is, we really don’t have a sense of elevation change. We can hope to have that capability some day . . .

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