This is an image of a plateau and surrounding steep slopes within the Valles Marineris.
Click on image for full size
Image from: Malin Space Science Systems
An Overview of the Mars Global Surveyor Mission
The mission of Mars Global Surveyor (MGS for short) is to map the surface of Mars
from space, a mission somewhat like to the Magellan
mission to Venus. The mission is also investigating the topmost portion of the Martian atmosphere and is making detailed observations of the Martian weather. MGS carries a lot of the same instruments
that were carried by the lost Mars Observer mission
MGS and Mars Pathfinder (MPF for short) were part of the Mars Surveyor Program. As part of this new, cheaper, but more experimental program, a new technique called aerobraking was used to get the MGS probe into the correct orbit around Mars.
MGS has already returned great pictures of the Martian surface and data which will help scientists refine their models of the Martian atmosphere. Among the important new results from the mission is the definite confirmation of the presence of a Martian magnetosphere.
As of April 25, 2001, all systems on the MGS probe were working just fine. The spacecraft has been in space 1,631 days and has completed 9,530 mapping orbits of Mars! And MGS is still going strong!
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