PIA03169: Springtime on the Martian South Polar Cap
Target Name: Mars
Is a satellite of: Sol (our sun)
Mission: Mars Global Surveyor (MGS)
Spacecraft: Mars Global Surveyor Orbiter
Instrument: Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)
Product Size: 522 x 734 pixels (width x height)
Produced By: Malin Space Science Systems
Producer ID: MOC2-289
Addition Date: 2001-10-13
Primary Data Set: MGS EDRs
Full-Res TIFF: PIA03169.tif (954.6 kB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA03169.jpg (34.89 kB)

Click on the image above to download a moderately sized image in JPEG format (possibly reduced in size from original)

Original Caption Released with Image:
This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) wide angle view of the martian south polar region was acquired on September 12, 2001, four years to the day after MGS first began to orbit the Red Planet. The bright area at the center of the image is the permanent south polar cap--the part of the cap that will remain through the coming summer. The bright areas that surround the center make up the seasonal frost cap that was deposited during southern winter, which ended June 17, 2001. The dark area in the lower right corner results from two phenomena--the seasonal frost is subliming away much faster in this region, and the area is darker because it is closer to the night side of the planet. The fuzzy or hazy zone that covers most of the left side of the image consists of afternoon clouds and fog. The polar frosts contain both water and carbon dioxide ices. Clouds of condensing water ice crystals are common over parts of the polar cap at this time of year. For scale, the permanent cap at the center of the image is about 420 km (260 mi) across. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper left. For a summertime view of the cap, see PIA02393. Summer in the southern hemisphere will begin in mid-November 2001.

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.

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL/MSSS

Image Addition Date:
2001-10-13