Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Defrosting Sand

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-1127, 19 June 2005

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows dark spots formed in carbon dioxide frost that covers the surfaces of patches of sand in the south polar region. As spring arrived this year in the martian southern hemisphere, so began the annual defrosting process. The fact that sand dunes begin to defrost earlier than other surfaces, and that the defrosting process involves the formation of spots like these, has been known since the earliest days of the MGS mission.
Location near: 66.8°S, 15.7°W
Image width: ~3 km (~1.9 mi)
Illumination from: upper left
Season: Southern Spring

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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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