Status Report

NASA Mars Picture of the Day: South Polar Layers 07-02-2004

By SpaceRef Editor
July 2, 2004
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Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-775, 2 July 2004




NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

Beneath the ice caps of both martian poles lies
extensive deposits of layered material. Whether the
material includes ice is unknown. In the north polar
region, some of the layers contain dark
sand, others may consist of dust cemented by ice. The
south polar layers are a little bit more challenging
to understand. In most places, they have been covered
by thin mantles of debris that mask the true nature of
the layered material. This is the case, even in the
Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)
image shown here. South polar layers were eroded to
provide this spectacular view, but later the materials
were almost uniformly covered with a material that,
when the image is viewed at full resolution (click on
image, above), has become cracked. This picture is located
near 82.0°S, 72.4°W, and
covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) wide.
Sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper left.

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.