Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Springtime North Polar Dust Storms

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-321, 12 December 2002

Images Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS
Caption by: K. S. Edgett and M. C. Malin, MSSS

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As on the Earth, many severe storms brew in the martian polar regions. Here, temperature contrasts between the cold carbon dioxide ("dry ice") seasonal frost cap and the warm ground adjacent to it--combined with a flow of cool polar air evaporating off the cap--sweeps up dust and funnels it into swirling dust storms along the cap edge. The dust storms shown here were observed during the recent northern spring by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) in May 2002. The picture is a mosaic of daily global images from the MOC wide angle cameras. The north polar cap is the bright, frosty surface at the top.

Images Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Caption by: K. S. Edgett and M. C. Malin, MSSS

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, CA. 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, CA and Denver, CO.

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