Exposure of South Polar Layered Deposits
Exposure of South Polar Layered Deposits
PSP_004650_0975  Science Theme: Polar Geology
Extensive layered deposits are found in both polar regions of Mars, and are thought to contain evidence of recent climate changes like ice ages on Earth.

Radar observations suggest that the polar layered deposits are composed mostly of water ice, but many layered exposures, including this one, appear to be covered by a layer of dust that protects the underlying water ice from further erosion. The south polar layered deposits are more extensive than the northern deposits, and have generally been less active recently.

The greater age of the surface of the south polar layered deposits is indicated by the higher density of craters on its surface; a cluster of small craters is visible above center in this image. Also visible are widespread polygonal fractures, evidence of water ice expansion/contraction below the surface.

Written by: Ken Herkenhoff  (21 October 2009)
Acquisition date
24 July 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
248.4 km (154.4 miles)

Original image scale range
49.7 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~149 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
62°, with the Sun about 28° above the horizon

Solar longitude
282.7°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  112°
Sub-solar azimuth:  47.8°
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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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.