Washington: NASA has released a stunning image that shows the western side of an elongated pit depression in the eastern Noctis Labyrinthus region of Mars. As seen in the image, along the pit's upper wall is a light-toned layered deposit.
The image was acquired on November 24, 2015 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
NASA says spectra extracted from the light-toned deposit by the spacecraft's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) instrument are consistent with the mineral jarosite, which is a potassium and iron hydrous sulfate.
The jarosite-bearing deposit observed in the image could indicate acidic aqueous conditions within a volcanic system in Noctis Labyrinthus, according to NASA.
On Earth, jarosite can form in ore deposits or from alteration near volcanic vents, and indicates an oxidizing and acidic environment.
The Opportunity rover discovered jarosite at the Meridiani Planum landing site. Jarosite has been found at several other locations on Mars, indicating that it is a common mineral on the Red Planet.
Noctis Labyrinthus is a huge region of tectonically controlled valleys located at the western end of the Valles Marineris canyon system on the Red Planet.