This striking view of layered sediments on Mars was captured by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter’s Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System, CaSSIS, on 2 October 2018. The image, which covers an area 25 x 7 km wide, focuses on a layered mound in Juventae Chasma, just north of the iconic Valles Marineris.
The features in the chasmata around Valles Marineris have been well studied by Mars orbiters, including ESA’s Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The CRISM instrument on MRO detected a significant amount of sulphates at the base of the mound shown in this image – a composition that points to the presence of water in the distant past.
The new image from CaSSIS reveals the beautiful sedimentary layers in high resolution, allowing scientists to explore the correlation between colour as seen by the camera, and composition as determined by previous measurements to better understand how these minerals were deposited in the area. Patterns in the layering can also serve as a record of climate, further constraining the type of environment in which this feature formed, and shedding light on the history of this stunning landscape.
The ExoMars programme is a joint endeavour between ESA and Roscosmos. More about ExoMars.