Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

South Polar Patterns

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-540, 10 November 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

This August 2003 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) picture shows the defrosting floor of a pit in the south polar region near 71.7°S, 1.6°W. The surface exhibits an array of cracks and bands that are emphasized by frost. Some of these are polygons similar to those that form in Earth's arctic and antarctic regions by processes of freezing and thawing of ground ice. Other bands might represent exposures of layered bedrock. Whether there is ice beneath the ground that has influenced the pattern of cracks and bands is unknown. This picture covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) wide and is illuminated by sunlight 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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