The Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) was designed to be able to see objects the size of automobiles and small buildings on the martian surface. Of course, the Mars Global Surveyor science teams do not expect to find buildings and automobiles...but boulders, instead. These pictures show a typical MOC scene in the martian equatorial cratered highlands. The picture on the left (above) is a MOC wide angle context frame, showing the location of the high resolution image on the right. The high resolution image exhibits slopes and valleys that occur within an ancient impact crater that is about 33 kilometers (20.5 miles) across, located at 6.5°S, 218.8°W in the Aeolis region of Mars.
The high resolution view shows smooth, mantled surfaces, as well as bare, rocky surfaces. The bare surfaces are typically located on slopes. Small rounded knobs -- particularly in the upper left corner of the image -- are boulders. A few boulders have rolled down the slopes and are deposited in the valleys. The high resolution image covers a very small area -- only 3 km wide by 4.2 km tall (1.9 miles by 2.6 miles). Both images were obtained at the same time, and both are illuminated by sunlight from the left. North is toward the upper right.
Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, CA. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, CA and Denver, CO.