Cryptic Terrain on Mars
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Cryptic Terrain on Mars
PSP_003179_0945  Science Theme: Seasonal Processes


This caption is part of a December 2007 AGU presentation "Spring at the South Pole of Mars."

There is an enigmatic region near the south pole of Mars known as the "cryptic" terrain. It stays cold in the spring, even as its albedo darkens and the sun rises in the sky.

This region is covered by a layer of translucent seasonal carbon dioxide ice that warms and evaporates from below. As carbon dioxide gas escapes from below the slab of seasonal ice it scours dust from the surface. The gas vents to the surface, where the dust is carried downwind by the prevailing wind.

The channels carved by the escaping gas are often radially organized and are known informally as "spiders."

Written by: Candy Hansen   (22 December 2007)

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Acquisition date:01 April 2007 Local Mars time: 6:19 PM
Latitude (centered):-85.408° Longitude (East):103.987°
Range to target site:245.9 km (153.7 miles)Original image scale range:49.2 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~148 cm across are resolved
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Emission angle:3.8° Phase angle:74.8°
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North azimuth:130° Sub-solar azimuth:34.1°
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