A Forest of Channels on the South Polar Layered Deposits
NASA/JPL/UArizona
A Forest of Channels on the South Polar Layered Deposits
ESP_023164_1020  Science Theme: Polar Geology
A series of regularly-spaced, branching channels is present near the top of this image of multiple exposures of the south polar layered deposits.

This image was taken towards the end of summer at the South Pole, so all of the seasonal carbon dioxide frost has disappeared from the surface via sublimation (transition from a solid to a gas). See the color subimage for a closer look at a few of the clusters, each about 300 meters (or 1/5 mile) long.

The sublimation of seasonal carbon dioxide in the Martian polar regions seems to erode connected channels on the underlying surface, as escaping carbon dioxide gas scours the surface beneath the carbon dioxide ice (see this image for some additional information). Such features are fairly common to the south polar region. However, the channel clusters here are unusually even in their spacing. The carbon dioxide gas-driven erosion will exploit pre-existing weakness in the underlying surface, so it’s possible that these features are following joints or fractures that exist in the layered deposits.

The regularity of these features may suggest something about the thickness of ground ice deep below the surface. Certainly, the features we see at the surface are providing clues to what’s going on underneath!



Written by: Nicole Baugh  (15 July 2011)
 
Acquisition date
06 July 2011

Local Mars time
14:46

Latitude (centered)
-77.922°

Longitude (East)
203.841°

Spacecraft altitude
248.0 km (154.2 miles)

Original image scale range
50.0 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~150 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel

Map projection
Polarstereographic

Emission angle
7.5°

Phase angle
70.8°

Solar incidence angle
66°, with the Sun about 24° above the horizon

Solar longitude
323.4°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  101°
Sub-solar azimuth:  56.1°
JPEG
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

JP2
Black and white
map-projected   (383MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (199MB)

JP2 EXTRAS
Black and white
map-projected  (226MB)
non-map           (230MB)

IRB color
map projected  (82MB)
non-map           (211MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (381MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (356MB)

RGB color
non map           (199MB)
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products
HiView

NB
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

USAGE POLICY
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

POSTSCRIPT
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.