Spring Slide
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Spring Slide
ESP_033433_2650  Science Theme: Climate Change
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The North Polar region of Mars is capped with layers of water ice and dust, called the "polar layered deposits." This permanent polar cap is covered in the winter with a layer of seasonal carbon dioxide ice.

When the sun rises in the spring, the steep edges of the polar layered deposits are the first to warm up. The dry ice sublimes (going directly from a solid to a gas) and destabilizes loose chunks perched on the steep cliff. Material from the weaker layers gets dislodged and cascades down the steep slope.

Here, we can see a dark streak marking the path of that loose material, approximately 1 kilometer wide. HiRISE images often show avalanches in progress in the springtime along the edge of the polar layered deposits in this area.

Written by: Candy Hansen (audio by Phil Plait)   (30 October 2013)

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Acquisition date:13 September 2013 Local Mars time:12:41 PM
Latitude (centered):85.061° Longitude (East):239.038°
Range to target site:318.9 km (199.3 miles)Original image scale range:63.8 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~191 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:50 cm/pixelMap projection:Polarstereographic
Emission angle:4.7° Phase angle:73.4°
Solar incidence angle:76°, with the Sun about 14° above the horizon Solar longitude:21.3°, Northern Spring
For non-map projected products:
North azimuth:119° Sub-solar azimuth:308.8°
For map-projected products
North azimuth:31.02°Sub solar azimuth:221.6°

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For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. 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. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona. The image data were processed using the U.S. Geological Survey’s ISIS3 software.