Status Report

NASA Mars Picture of the Day: Spiders from Mars?

By SpaceRef Editor
July 19, 2003
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Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-426, 19 July 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

No, this not a picture of a giant, martian spider web.
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image
shows a plethora of polygonal features on the floor of a
northern hemisphere impact crater near
65.6°N, 327.7°W. The picture was acquired during
spring, after the seasonal carbon dioxide frost cap had
largely migrated through the region. At the time the picture
was taken, remnants of seasonal frost remained on the
crater rim and on the edges of the troughs that bound each
of the polygons. Frost often provides
a helpful hint as to where polygons and patterned ground
occur. The polygons, if they were on Earth, would indicate
the presence of freeze-thaw cycles in ground ice. Although
uncertain, the same might be true of Mars.
Sunlight illuminates the scene from the lower 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.