NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows exposures of layered material on slopes in the south polar region near 81.9°S, 72.2°W. Layers record the history of a place, but accessing the information contained in these layers may one day require a visit by a human or robotic explorer. The south polar layers, in general, are believed to be accumulations of dust and ice that were built up in the most recent billion years or so. However, they could just as easily be sedimentary rocks from much earlier in martian history. The picture covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) across. The scene is illuminated by sunlight 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.