Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)

High Resolution Views Comparing the Martian North and South Polar Residual Caps

MGS MOC Releases MOC2-210 to MOC2-219, 8 March 2000

The surfaces of the two "residual" martian polar ice caps are very different from each other. The north polar cap has a relatively flat, pitted surface that in some places resembles cottage cheese and in others looks like the surface of a sponge that you might use in your kitchen sink. The south polar cap has larger pits, troughs, and flat mesas that resemble pieces of swiss cheese.

In a paper published March 9, 2000, by the journal, Nature, members of the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) team, led by MOC investigator Peter Thomas of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), have described some of the newly-discovered differences in polar geomorphology. The different shapes of the landforms on the north and south polar caps suggest that these regions have had different climates and histories for thousands or perhaps even millions of years. The pictures shown below describe the story presented in the Nature article.

Also see: JPL Press Release, March 8, 2000

Residual Polar Caps

S Polar "Swiss Cheese"

More "Swiss Cheese"

N Polar "Cottage Cheese"

N Polar "Sponge"

N Polar Cap Layers

South Polar Cap Pits

S Polar Cap Troughs

S Polar Cap Aprons

South Polar Exhumation

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