Mars Valentine 2023

Captioned Image Release No. MSSS-610 — 14 February 2023


NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems
Left) CTX subframe of the full CTX image U10_074679_0985_XN_81S318W Right) Subframe of the full CTX image U12_075668_0985_XI_81S318W.

Mars Valentine 2023

Happy St. Valentine’s Day from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX)! We are celebrating this Valentine’s Day with a CTX image from Australe Lingula in the southern hemisphere of Mars.


These images, from the south polar region, show a ~3.5 km wide, heart-shaped field of araneiforms, or spider-like, radial depressions proposed to be formed through the seasonal CO2 ice sublimation process.  The two CTX images show the feature as it appears in both southern spring (left), covered in CO2 frost, and in southern summer (right) once the frost has sublimated away. These images were taken by CTX on July 2nd, 2022 (Ls = 258) and September 17th, 2022 (Ls = 306), and both images have been contrast balanced for the full range of brightness. This feature is located at approximately 81.6°S, 318.6°W.


Over the past 24 years, Malin Space Science Systems has featured other heart-shaped martian landforms on Valentine's Day in images acquired by MRO CTX and the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC). These previous examples can be viewed by clicking on the following links:




To cite the image(s) and caption information in a paper or report:

Malin, M. C., D. A. Susko, C. Keegan, A. B. Valeh, G. T. Speth, and L. Posiolova (2023), Mars Valentine 2023, Malin Space Science Systems Captioned Image Release, MSSS-610,

The image(s) and caption are value-added products. MSSS personnel processed the images and wrote the caption information. While the images are in the Public Domain, NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS requests that you credit the source of the image(s). Please give the proper credit for use of the image(s) and/or caption.

Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) built and operates the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover Mast Camera (Mastcam) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI), the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Mars Color Imager (MARCI) and Context Camera (CTX), and the Jupiter Orbiter (JUNO) camera (Junocam). MSSS also built and operated the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC). In addition, MSSS built the Mars Odyssey (ODY) Thermal Emission Imaging Spectrometer (THEMIS) Visible (VIS) camera subsystem, which shares optics with the thermal infrared instrument and is operated at Arizona State University (ASU). MSSS also built the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) for the Phoenix Mars Scout lander, the suite of high resolution cameras aboard the 2009 Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), and Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REX) mission. MSSS has also built and operated cameras for the Mars 2020 rover mission.