This image covers a portion of Ares Valles. Ares Valles is an outflow channel carved into the surface of Mars by ancient catastrophic floods. The floods were most likely caused by huge discharges of groundwater at the channel heads. These floods are similar to (but much larger than) floods that created the Channeled Scablands in central Washington State during the last ice age on Earth. The Martian channels are hundreds of kilometers long and occur in a number of regions within equatorial Mars. The material that was eroded away by these floods was deposited as sediment in the northern lowlands. The Mars Pathfinder landing site is several hundred kilometers downstream from the location of this image and the surfaces are probably similar in nature.
Note: this THEMIS visual image has not been radiometrically nor geometrically calibrated for this preliminary release. An empirical correction has been performed to remove instrumental effects. A linear shift has been applied in the cross-track and down-track direction to approximate spacecraft and planetary motion. Fully calibrated and geometrically projected images will be released through the Planetary Data System in accordance with Project policies at a later time.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) was developed by Arizona State University, Tempe, in collaboration with Raytheon Santa Barbara Remote Sensing. The THEMIS investigation is led by Dr. Philip Christensen at Arizona State University. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the Odyssey project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.