NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image provides a springtime view of defrosting processes on a surface that in summer would be a dark patch of sand. In winter, the sand is covered by frost (carbon dioxide and possibly water ice, as well). In spring, the sand develops a spotted pattern as the frosts sublime away. The sand patch is part of a dune field in Jeans Crater, located in the south polar region near 69.8°S, 206.6°W. 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.