This image shows the area near the canyon wall, where large blocks of the upland surface have slumped down into the canyon. Close inspection of this image shows numerous small dark dots that are in fact individual rocks on the surface of Mars. These rocks vary from the size of a small automobile to the size of a house, have fallen down steep slopes.
Launched on November 7, 1996, Mars Global Surveyor entered Mars orbit on Thursday, September 11, 1997. The original mission plan called for using friction with the planet's atmosphere to reduce the orbital energy, leading to a two-year mapping mission from close, circular orbit (beginning in March 1998). Owing to difficulties with one of the two solar panels, aerobraking was suspended in mid-October and resumed in November 8. Many of the original objectives of the mission, and in particular those of the camera, are likely to be accomplished as the mission progresses.
Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, CA. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, CA and Denver, CO.