Martian Zambonis?
Martian Zambonis?
ESP_013329_1070  Science Theme: Polar Geology
This image of Mars' south polar area shows an amazing series of elliptical rings. Could these have been made by a Zamboni on Mars driving around and around on the ice? No, of course not! But the answer in some ways more fun.

The ice caps on Mars are surrounded by a thick stack of layered deposits. HiRISE and other instruments have shown that these layers are composed of dusty ice. Imagine this stack of layers as a cake with alternating layers. Now someone comes and takes a big scoop out of the middle of the cake! While our first reaction might be to get mad at them for ruining the cake, take a moment to think what the pattern would look like: it would have rings going round and round the hole. This is what we are seeing in this image of Mars.

Some erosional process has scooped a big hole into the layered deposits. So, no Zamboni, but we do have giant scoops digging into layer-cakes of ice!

Written by: Laszlo P. Keszthelyi  (1 July 2009)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_013527_1070.
Acquisition date
31 May 2009

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
247.2 km (153.6 miles)

Original image scale range
25.0 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~75 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
54°, with the Sun about 36° above the horizon

Solar longitude
276.1°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  98°
Sub-solar azimuth:  40.8°
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

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:
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.