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12 September 2006 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) has now been orbiting Mars for 9 years! It was the evening of 11 September 1997, Pacific Daylight time, but it was early in the morning on 12 September 1997, Greenwich Mean Time, when MGS fired its engines to slow down and drop into an elliptical orbit around Mars. The Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) began acquiring its first images just a few days later. Today, the MGS MOC remains extremely healthy and ready to begin its 10th year of operations. The dramatic MOC narrow angle camera image presented here was acquired in June 2006. It shows a crater that has been encroached by a field of dark, windblown sand dunes in the Syrtis Major volcanic region of Mars. The area downwind of the crater (to the left/lower left) is free of dunes because the raised rim of the crater prevented winds from causing sand to be deposited in the crater's lee.
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