Remains of Summer at the South Pole
Remains of Summer at the South Pole
ESP_023174_0945  Science Theme: Climate Change
The full image captures the margin of the South Polar residual ice cap where it meets the surrounding terrain. It was taken during the end of the Mars Southern Hemisphere summer.

Towards the north (left in the map-projected image), what is informally referred to as “Swiss cheese” terrain can be seen. This is thought to be formed as frozen carbon dioxide periodically sublimates (turns from solid directly to gas as the area warms).

Where the dust and ice meet, the dramatic color difference between these two materials serves to highlight a small area of polygonal cracking. Further south, the carbon dioxide ice has given way to more familiar, dusty Mars terrain, here organized in layers.

Scientists monitor the same polar locations within a Mars year to examine the development, erosion, and modification of ice features. However, many areas also warrant study from year-to-year to determine what role inter-annual variability plays in the changing landscape. Previous images from this area can be found here: ESP_012559_0945, ESP_014273_0945, ESP_014405_0945.

Written by: Kristin Block  (27 July 2011)
Acquisition date
07 July 2011

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
245.1 km (152.3 miles)

Original image scale range
24.6 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
74°, with the Sun about 16° above the horizon

Solar longitude
323.8°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  128°
Sub-solar azimuth:  55.9°
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   (472MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (263MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (223MB)
non-map           (241MB)

IRB color
map projected  (66MB)
non-map           (243MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (119MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (110MB)

RGB color
non map           (214MB)
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.