North Polar Layered Deposits
North Polar Layered Deposits
PSP_008244_2645  Science Theme: Polar Geology
The North Polar layered deposits of Mars form a layered stack of dusty ice up to three kilometers thick. The differences from layer to layer are thought to reflect differences in the climate of Mars that existed when the layers were formed.

We can see these internal layers exposed on the faces of the many troughs and scarps that cut through these deposits. One of these scarp faces is shown here; it is situated at the head of a large canyon (named Chasma Boreale) that cuts through these polar layered deposits.

The terrain on the right is higher and consists of the upper surface of the icy layered deposits in this area while the terrain on the left is lower and consists of the rocky ground that underlies the layered deposits. The cliff that separates these two areas runs down the center of the image with a relief of about 700 meters.

The section of the layered deposits that is exposed on this cliff face is unusual in that, as well layers of dusty ice, there are also layers of sand present. Small structures, called cross-beds, visible in the sandy layers indicate that each layer was originally a dune field that only later became covered with ice. Some of this sandy material is being removed from the cliff face and is forming new dunes at the foot of the cliff.

Written by: Shane Byrne  (4 June 2008)
Acquisition date
29 April 2008

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
320.7 km (199.3 miles)

Original image scale range
32.5 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~98 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

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

Solar longitude
65.3°, Northern Spring

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  110°
Sub-solar azimuth:  318.3°
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   (794MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (349MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (377MB)
non-map           (298MB)

IRB color
map projected  (97MB)
non-map           (251MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (193MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (191MB)

RGB color
non map           (221MB)
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.