Status Report

NASA Mars Picture of the Day: Defrosty Dunes

By SpaceRef Editor
July 19, 2006
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Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-1528, 19 July 2006

Medium-sized view of MGS MOC Picture of the Day, updated daily

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows a portion of a sand dune field in the north polar region of Mars. The dunes are covered with frozen carbon dioxide which accumulated over the autumn and winter months in the northern hemisphere. During the spring, the time at which this image was acquired, the carbon dioxide begins to sublime away, going directly from solid to gas, just as dry ice does here on Earth. The dark spots, streaked by blowing winds, may be places where the frost has been removed (exposing underlying dark sand), places where the grain size or roughness of the frost has increased (increasing shadowing due to the change in texture), or both.
Location near: 79.7°N, 148.3°W
Image width: ~3 km (~1.9 mi)
Illumination from: lower left
Season: Northern Spring

Tips for Media Use

Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology
built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission.
MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, California.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Surveyor Operations Project
operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial
partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena,
California and Denver, Colorado.

SpaceRef staff editor.