Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

North Polar Sand Dunes

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-146, 19 July 1999


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Dunes composed of dark (low albedo) sand encircle the north polar cap of Mars. This northern summer view shows some of the dunes as they appeared to the Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera in early May 1999. The dune shapes indicate sand movement from the lower left side of the image, toward the upper right. The substrate (surface) on which the dunes occur has a texture that resembles the surface of a basketball, only the "bumps" on this basketball are about 15 meters (50 feet) across! The bright patches near some of the dunes might be ice, or they might be exposures of bright bedrock. The picture is illuminated from the upper right.


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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