All this week, the THEMIS Image of the Day is following on the real Mars the path taken by fictional astronaut Mark Watney, stranded on the Red Planet in the book and movie, The Martian.
Today's image shows part of Mawrth Valles, a channel carved by giant floods billions of years ago. The highlands lying to the south and west of the channel are under consideration as a potential landing site for NASA's Mars 2020 rover. Remote-sensing observations from orbit show widespread exposures of clay minerals, indicating alteration by water early in Martian history. These might preserve traces of ancient life, if there was any.
For astronaut Mark Watney, driving in a pressurized and solar-powered rover vehicle, Mawrth Valles offers a gentle slope and an easy-to-follow route up from Acidalia's low-lying plains into the Arabia Terra highlands. At this point in his journey, he has driven about 750 kilometers (470 miles).
Orbit Number: 38563 Latitude: 24.4297 Longitude: 341.726 Instrument: VIS Captured: 2010-08-24 14:56
Please see the THEMIS Data Citation Note for details on crediting THEMIS images.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, 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.