NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) picture displays polygons outlined by cracks in the martian south polar region. This southern summer view was acquired in October 2003 and is located near 86.9°S, 170.6°W. Polygons similar in size and shape to these are common in the arctic and antarctic regions of Earth. On Earth, they indicate the presence (or the past presence) of ground ice and the freeze-thaw cycles that accompany this ice. On Mars, whether ground ice was responsible for these landforms is uncertain, but their presence is suggestive that ground ice may exist or may once have existed in this region. The picture covers an area 3 km (1.9 mi) wide. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper 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.