This image acquired on August 27, 2023 by NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows ridges in Aeolis Planum which tell a story of ancient rivers and a Mars very different to that of today.

January 31, 2024

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This image of ridges in Aeolis Planum tells a story of ancient rivers and a Mars very different to that of today.

River beds often get filled with gravel and the surrounding terrain is often built up of fine-grained mud from river overflows. The gravely river bottom and the fine-grained surroundings can lead to a strange phenomenon that geologists call inverted channels. After the river disappears, the fine-grained surroundings can be easily eroded away leaving the gravely river bed as a high-standing ridge.

These ridges show the location of the old river beds in Mars' distant past. The angle at which the ridges join together indicate that these rivers flowed from top-right to bottom-left (i.e. southwest).

The map is projected here at a scale of 50 centimeters (19.7 inches) per pixel. (The original image scale is 57.5 centimeters [22.6 inches] per pixel [with 2 x 2 binning]; objects on the order of 172 centimeters [67.7 inches] across are resolved.) North is up.

This is a stereo pair with ESP_079382_1735.

The University of Arizona, in Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., in Boulder, Colorado. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.


NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


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