These Mars Odyssey images show the "White Rock" feature on Mars in both infrared (left) and visible (right) wavelengths. The images were acquired simultaneously on March 11, 2002. The box shows where the visible image is located in the infrared image. "White Rock" is the unofficial name for this unusual landform that was first observed during the Mariner 9 mission in the early 1970's. The variations in brightness in the infrared image are due to differences in surface temperature, where dark is cool and bright is warm. The dramatic differences between the infrared and visible views of White Rock are the result of solar heating. The relatively bright surfaces observed at visible wavelengths reflect more solar energy than the darker surfaces, allowing them to stay cooler and thus they appear dark in the infrared image. The new thermal emission imaging system data will help to address the long standing question of whether the White Rock deposit was produced in an ancient crater lake or by dry processes of volcanic or wind deposition. The infrared image has a resolution of 100 meters (328 feet) per pixel and is 32 kilometers (20 miles) wide. The visible image has a resolution of 18 meters per pixel and is approximately 18 kilometers (11 miles) wide. The images are centered at 8.2 degrees south latitude and 24.9 degrees east longitude.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Thermal Emission Imaging System was developed by Arizona State University, Tempe, in collaboration with Raytheon Santa Barbara Remote Sensing. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the Odyssey project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.