NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows patterned ground, arranged in the form of polygons, on the undulating plains associated with ejecta from the Lyot impact crater on the martian northern plains. This picture was acquired in October 2003 and shows that the polygon margins are ridges with large boulders---shown here as dark dots---on them. On Earth, polygon patterns like this are created in arctic and antarctic regions where there is ice in the ground. The seasonal and longer-term cycles of freezing and thawing of the ice-rich ground cause these features to form over time. Whether the same is true for Mars is unknown. The polygons are located near 54.6°N, 326.6°W. The image covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) wide and is illuminated 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.