The Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) on board the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft has been documenting a variety of landforms in the volcanic Tharsis region, including these valleys and associated lava flows on the plains southeast of Olympus Mons. Lava flows are visible in the upper left quarter of this image, but meandering valleys with streamlined "islands" dominate the scene. The valleys might have been carved by running water, but extremely fluid lava or mud might also have flowed through the channels. The exact role of each type of fluid--water, mud, or lava--remains to be determined. Illumination is from the right. The area shown is 7.3 km (4.5 mi) wide by 12 km (7.5 mi) long.
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.