Swiss Cheese Terrain in South Polar Region
Swiss Cheese Terrain in South Polar Region
PSP_004989_0945  Science Theme: Climate Change
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  (29 August 2007)
Acquisition date
20 August 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
246.8 km (153.4 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
67°, with the Sun about 23° above the horizon

Solar longitude
298.8°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  127°
Sub-solar azimuth:  51.7°
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   (551MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (285MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (318MB)
non-map           (351MB)

IRB color
map projected  (108MB)
non-map           (278MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (119MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (108MB)

RGB color
non map           (237MB)
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’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.