Status Report

NASA Mars Picture of the Day: South Polar Patterns

By SpaceRef Editor
November 10, 2003
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Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-540, 10 November 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

This August 2003 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)
picture shows the defrosting floor of a pit in the south polar
region near 71.7°S, 1.6°W. The surface exhibits an array of cracks
and bands that are emphasized by frost. Some of these are polygons
similar to those that form in Earth’s arctic and antarctic regions
by processes of freezing and thawing of ground ice. Other bands might
represent exposures of layered bedrock. Whether there is ice beneath
the ground that has influenced the pattern of cracks and bands
is unknown. This picture covers
an area 3 km (1.9 mi) wide and is illuminated by
sunlight 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.