NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
For 25 December, the MOC team thought that a visit to a north polar site would be timely. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows, at about 1.5 meters per pixel (~5 feet per pixel) resolution, a view of the north polar ice cap of Mars. That the material includes water ice has been known since the mid-1970s, when Viking orbiter observations confirmed that the cap gives off water vapor in the summertime, as the ice is subliming away. The surface shown here, observed by MOC during northern summer in November 2004, is pitted and somewhat grooved. Dark material on pit floors might be trapped, windblown dust. The picture covers an area about 1 km (0.62 mi) across, and is located near 86.8°N, 293.1°W. 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.