NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This July 2004 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows a group of aligned barchan sand dunes in the martian north polar region. At the time, the dunes were covered with seasonal frost, but the frost had begun to sublime away, leaving dark spots and dark outlines around the dunes. The surrounding plains exhibit small, diffuse spots that are also the result of subliming seasonal frost. This northern spring image, acquired on a descending ground track (as MGS was moving north to south on the "night" side of Mars) is located near 78.8°N, 34.8°W. The image covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) across and 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.