NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image was taken during southern spring, as the seasonal carbon dioxide frost cap was subliming away. Frost remaining in shallow cracks and depressions reveals a fantastic polygonal pattern. Similar polygons occur in the Earth's arctic and antarctic regions---on Earth such polygons are related to the freeze and thaw of ground ice. The picture covers an area about 3 km (about 1.9 mi) wide near 71.9°S, 11.1°W. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the 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.