Spring Colors on the Southern Polar Cap
Spring Colors on the Southern Polar Cap
PSP_003734_0950  Science Theme: Seasonal Processes
Mars has a seasonal southern polar cap composed of carbon dioxide (commonly known as dry ice), that overlies a permanent polar cap which is a mixture of carbon dioxide ice, water ice and dust. As the carbon dioxide evaporates in the spring the escaping gas carves channels in the permanent cap below. Often these channels radiate outward (or converge inward), giving them a spider-like appearance.

In this enhanced color image the seasonal frost is whitish-lavendar. The tan areas starting to show through are where the frost has already evaporated ("sublimation" is actually the correct term, when ice changes directly to a gas). Tan-colored dust blows around and accumulates in the bottom of some of the channels.

This is truly other-worldly terrain, with exotic landforms with no earthly analogs.

Written by: Candy Hansen  (4 June 2007)
Acquisition date
14 May 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
246.2 km (153.0 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/pixel

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
69°, with the Sun about 21° above the horizon

Solar longitude
237.7°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  123°
Sub-solar azimuth:  36.8°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (654MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (348MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (415MB)
non-map           (450MB)

IRB color
map projected  (167MB)
non-map           (341MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (179MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (166MB)

RGB color
non map           (294MB)
B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

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.