NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Seasonal frost can enhance the view from orbit of polar polygonal patterns on the surface of Mars. Sometimes these patterns look something like a city map, or the view from above a city lit-up at night. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows an example from the south polar region near 80.7°S, 70.6°W. Polar polygons on Mars are generally believed, though not proven, to be the result of freeze/thaw cycles of ice occurring within the upper few meters (several yards) of the martian subsurface. The image shown here covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) across; 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.