NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows an exposure of finely-detailed layers in the martian north polar region. The polar ice cap, which is made up of frozen water (whereas the south polar cap is mostly frozen carbon dioxide), is underlain by a thick sequence of layers. Some have speculated that these layers may record the history of changes in martian climate during the past few hundreds of millions of years. This picture is located near 86.0°N, 30.2°W, and covers an area approximately 3 km (1.9 mi) across. Sunlight illuminates the scene 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.