Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

South Polar Artwork

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-456, 18 August 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

Nature has created some interesting artwork on the south polar residual cap of Mars. This July 2003 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows an example. The patterns in this picture are formed by erosion and sublimation of multiple layers of frozen carbon dioxide. The artwork is ephemeral and changing with each passing summer. By the end of the coming southern summer, the scarps in this area will have retreated an average of 3 meters (3.3 yards); some of the smaller buttes and ridges will have vanished. This picture covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) wide and is located near 86.6°S, 358.2°W. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper left.

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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.

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