The First Day of Southern Spring
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

The First Day of Southern Spring
ESP_028956_0930  Science Theme: Seasonal Processes
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This image was taken on the first day of spring in the Southern hemisphere. Like the Earth, Mars is tilted on its axis, and the sun crosses the equator twice each year. On Earth we call this the equinox.

In the winter a seasonal polar cap composed of dry ice covers the polar regions. Although this is just the first day of spring and the sun is very low in the sky, activity associated with the sublimation (going directly from solid to gas) of the polar cap is already underway. A layer of ice coats this entire scene, and fans of dark material are deposited on top of the ice. This dark material is carried to the top of the ice by escaping gas flowing through the spidery channels carved in the surface.

In the summer, when the ice is gone, the fans are no longer visible.

Written by: Candy Hansen (audio by Tre Gibbs)   (7 November 2012)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_028957_0930.



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Acquisition date:29 September 2012 Local Mars time: 4:38 PM
Latitude (centered):-87.016° Longitude (East):127.311°
Range to target site:273.4 km (170.9 miles)Original image scale range:54.7 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~164 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:50 cm/pixelMap projection:Polarstereographic
Emission angle:26.2° Phase angle:109.9°
Solar incidence angle:89°, with the Sun about 1° above the horizon Solar longitude:180.0°, Northern Autumn
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North azimuth:104° Sub-solar azimuth:38.0°
For map-projected products
North azimuth:37.30°Sub solar azimuth:327.6°

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For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona. The image data were processed using the U.S. Geological Survey’s ISIS3 software.