This image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shows a variety of surface textures within the south polar residual cap of Mars.
It was taken during the southern spring, when the surface was covered by seasonal carbon dioxide frost, so that surface relief is easily seen. Illumination is from the bottom left, highlighting long troughs at to the right and round pits and irregular mesas to the left of center.
These unique landforms are common in the south polar residual cap, which is known from previous Mars Global Surveyor images to be eroding rapidly in places. Right of center, polar layered deposits are exposed on a sun-facing scarp. These deposits are older than the residual ice cap, and the layers are thought to record climate variations on Mars similar to ice ages on Earth.
The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates the HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the spacecraft development and integration contractor for the project and built the spacecraft.
Originally released on July 7, 2010