Mawrth Vallis has a rich mineral diversity, including clay minerals that formed by the chemical alteration of rocks or loose regolith” (soil) by water. There is a high surface area of bedded phyllosilicate (clay) exposures (tens of kilometers), located in the bright-toned materials.
The CRISM instrument on the MRO spacecraft detects a variety of clay minerals here, which could signify different processes of formation. The high resolution of the HiRISE camera helps us to see and trace out layers, polygonal fractures, and with CRISM, examine the distribution of various minerals across the surface.
This surface is scientifically compelling for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity and this region is one of four candidate landing sites for MSL.
Written by: Jennifer Griffes (5 January 2011)
This is a stereo pair with ESP_028855_2045 .
More info and image formats at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_020297_2045
Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona