The OMEGA infrared spectrometer on board ESA’s Mars Express, and CRISM onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), have identified iron-magnesium rich clays like smectite over hundreds of square kilometres around the Oxia Planum site. The origin of the clays – perhaps due to alteration of volcanic sediments – is of keen interest to researchers looking for a terrain where traces of life have been preserved and could be studied by a rover.
This image was taken by MRO’s high resolution camera HiRISE and shows a relatively flat surface in this region. Images like these have been used in the assessment of the various landing site candidates.
The image is centred at 18.275ºN / 335.368°E