Sunlight was just starting to reach the high Northern latitudes in late winter when HiRISE captured this image of part of the steep scarps around portions of the North Polar layered deposits.
The sunlight is highly diffused by atmospheric scattering, with the sun less than 0.5 degrees above the horizon. This diffuse light gives the image a unique appearance, almost like a painting. The surface is entirely covered by carbon dioxide frost mixed with dust.
HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates the orbiter's 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 in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.