From: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2002
MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-315, 29 May 2002
Polygons similar to those found in Earth's arctic and antarctic regions are also found in the polar regions of Mars. Typically, they occur on crater floors, or on intercrater plains, between about 60° and 80° latitude. The polygons are best seen when bright frost or dark sand has been trapped in the troughs that form the polygon boundaries. Three examples of martian polygons seen by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) are shown here. Each is located in the southern hemisphere:
(a) Polygon troughs highlighted by frost as the south polar cap retreats during spring. The circular features are the locations of buried craters that were originally formed by meteor impact. This image, E09-00029, is located at 75.1°S, 331.3°W, and was acquired on 1 October 2001.
(b) Summertime view of polygons, highlighted by dark, windblown sand, on the floor of a crater at 71.2°S, 282.6°W. The image, E12-02319, was obtained on 21 January 2002.
(c) Polygon troughs highlighted by the retreating south polar frost cap during southern summer near 80.7°S, 70.4°W. This picture, M11-01795, was taken by MOC on 13 January 2000.
Some Mars researchers assume that polygons on the Red Planet are key indictors that ground ice is present or was present in the recent past. However, whether these polygons actually required water ice to form is, in fact, unknown, since dry processes are also known on Earth for form similar polygons.
Other MGS MOC Examples of Martian Polygons:
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