PIA19961: Dynamic Mars
 Target Name:  Mars
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)
 Spacecraft:  Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)
 Instrument:  HiRISE
 Product Size:  2880 x 1800 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  University of Arizona/HiRISE-LPL
Other products from ESP_042572_2640
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA19961.tif (14.28 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA19961.jpg (457.8 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:

Click here for larger version of PIA19961
Map Projected Browse Image
Click on the image for larger version

This scarp at the edge of the North Polar layered deposits of Mars is the site of the most frequent frost avalanches seen by HiRISE. At this season, northern spring, frost avalanches are common and HiRISE monitors the scarp to learn more about the timing and frequency of the avalanches, and their relationship to the evolution of frost on the flat ground above and below the scarp.

This picture managed to capture a small avalanche in progress, right in the color strip. See if you can spot it in the browse image, and then click on the cutout to see it at full resolution. The small white cloud in front of the brick red cliff is likely carbon dioxide frost dislodged from the layers above, caught in the act of cascading down the cliff. It is larger than it looks, more than 20 meters across, and (based on previous examples) it will likely kick up clouds of dust when it hits the ground.

The avalanches tend to take place at a season when the North Polar region is warming, suggesting that the avalanches may be triggered by thermal expansion. The avalanches remind us, along with active sand dunes, dust devils, slope streaks and recurring slope lineae, that Mars is an active and dynamic planet.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, 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 NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Image Addition Date: