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8 trail-blazing images from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

By: Katherine Butler on Jan. 4, 2012, 8:47 a.m.
Layers exposed in crater near Mawrth Vallis on Mars

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

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Layers exposed in crater on Mars

Mawrth Vallis is an ancient channel on Mars believed to have been carved by catastrophic floods. The experts at JPL have detected clay minerals in this channel that they think were influenced by the presence of water. This enhanced-color image is from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched in 2005 and managed by JPL for NASA. It was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). The HiRISE’s mission is to explore the red planet’s geology at an extremely high resolution.