NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Patterns are common on the northern plains of Mars. Like their terrestrial counterparts in places like Siberia, Alaska, and northern Canada, patterned ground on Mars might be an indicator of the presence of ground ice. Whether it is true that the patterns on Mars are related to ground ice and whether the ice is still present beneath the martian surface are unknown. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) picture shows an example of patterned ground on the martian northern plains near 72.4°N, 252.6°W. The dark dots and lines are low mounds and chains of mounds. The circular feature near the center of the image is the location of a buried meteor impact crater; its presence today is marked only by the dark boulders on its rim and ejecta blanket that have managed to remain uncovered at the martian surface. The area shown is 3 km (1.9 mi) wide and illuminated by sunlight 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.