NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Small dust storms are common in the south polar region during summer. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows an example of a south polar dust-raising event caught by the narrow angle camera. The small, somewhat circular features at the lower right of the frame are pits in the martian surface. Moving from the bottom to top of the image, first there is a view of the pitted surface, followed by a zone of long, thin streamers of dust being lifted from the surface, followed by---at the top one third of the image---the billowy clouds of the dust storm. This image is important because it shows long, thin streamers of dust actually being raised from the martian surface to feed the dust storm. The picture is located near 87.0°S, 170.6°W. The area shown is about 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.