Dark, narrow streaks on Martian slopes such as these at Hale Crater are inferred to be formed by seasonal flow of water on contemporary Mars. The streaks are roughly the length of a football field.
The imaging and topographical information in this processed, false-color view come from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
These dark features on the slopes are called “recurring slope lineae” or RSL. Planetary scientists using observations with the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer on the same orbiter detected hydrated salts on these slopes at Hale Crater, corroborating the hypothesis that the streaks are formed by briny liquid water.
The image was produced by first creating a 3-D computer model (a digital terrain map) of the area based on stereo information from two HiRISE observations, and then draping a false-color image over the land-shape model. The vertical dimension is exaggerated by a factor of 1.5 compared to horizontal dimensions. The camera records brightness in three wavelength bands: infrared, red and blue-green. The draped image is one product from HiRISE observation ESP_03070_1440.
The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project and Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona