Swiss Cheese Terrain in South Polar Region
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Swiss Cheese Terrain in South Polar Region
PSP_004989_0945  Science Theme: Climate Change
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Since Mars is colder than Earth, there is not just water ice at the poles, but also a concentration of carbon dioxide ice. Some of the carbon dioxide ice at the South Pole is there all year long and called the residual cap. This image was taken near the South Pole of Mars and shows a characteristic “Swiss cheese” pattern.

This pattern is created when there is relatively high, smooth material that is broken up into these circular-shaped depressions forming the “Swiss cheese” terrain. The depressions are thought to be caused by sublimation, which is when a material goes directly from a solid to a gas phase. Repeated images are taken of areas like this so the changes in depression size and where they form can be monitored through the seasons.

Written by: Jennifer Griffes   (24 November 2010)



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Acquisition date:20 August 2007 Local Mars time: 4:51 PM
Latitude (centered):-85.654° Longitude (East):6.338°
Range to target site:246.8 km (154.2 miles)Original image scale range:24.7 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~74 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:25 cm/pixelMap projection:Polarstereographic
Emission angle:0.1° Phase angle:66.9°
Solar incidence angle:67°, with the Sun about 23° above the horizon Solar longitude:298.8°, Northern Winter
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North azimuth:127° Sub-solar azimuth:51.7°
For map-projected products
North azimuth:276.3°Sub solar azimuth:201.6°

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All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible: Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
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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.