NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Springtime for the martian northern hemisphere brings defrosting spots and patterns to the north polar dune fields. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows an example located near 76.7°N, 250.4°W. In summer, these dunes would be darker than their surroundings. However, while they are still covered by frost, they are not any darker than the substrate across which the sand is slowly traveling. Dune movement in this case is dominated by winds that blow from the southwest (lower left) toward the northeast (upper right). The picure covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) across and is illuminated by sunlight 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.