NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This June 2003 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) picture shows patterns created by subliming carbon dioxide frost in the south polar region of Mars. The circular feature on the west (left) side of the image is a meteor impact crater; its center is just out of view. The dark, spotted features at the bottom and right are patches of windblown sand that have been covered with frost. In this springtime image, the frost has been subliming away for several months. As frost is removed from the patches of sand, it creates a pattern of dark spots. This picture is located near 66.1°S, 322.6°W. The image is illuminated by sunlight from the upper left and covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) wide.
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.