Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Frosty Polygons

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-607, 16 January 2004

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

Looking somewhat like a roadmap, this 3 km (1.9 mi) wide view of a cratered plain in the martian south polar region shows a plethora of cracks that form polygonal patterns. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image is located near 78.9°S, 357.3°W. Polygons such as these, where they are found on Earth, would be indicators of the presence of subsurface ice. Whether the same is true for Mars is uncertain. What is certain is that modern, seasonal frost on the surface enhances the apperance of the polygons as the frost persists longer in the cracks than on adjacent plains. This southern springtime image is illuminated by sunlight from the upper left.

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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.

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