Geyser Season
Geyser Season
ESP_056082_0945  Science Theme: Seasonal Processes
Springtime in the South Polar region of Mars is a season of exciting activity. The thick coating of carbon dioxide ice that accumulated over the winter begins to sublimate (turn to vapor) as the sun rises higher in the sky and warms the ice. Sunlight penetrates through the transparent ice, and is absorbed at the base of the ice layer. The gas that forms as a result of the warming escapes through weaknesses in the ice and erupts in the form of magnificent geysers of gas and dust.

This image captures some of this activity in a region near 85 degrees south latitude that is being monitored by HiRISE. What makes this image interesting is the changing directions of the fans left behind by the geysers, indicating that the winds blew from different directions at the time that the geysers erupted. Winds from the southwest produced the dark fans at both ends of the image, whereas northwesterly winds dominated dust deposition in between. Local topography probably played a role in altering the wind direction; this shaded relief image shows that this image traverses a trough in the South Polar layered deposits, which may have funneled winds down slope along the length of the trough.

Written by: Paul Geissler   (29 October 2018)
Acquisition date
14 July 2018

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
244.9 km (152.2 miles)

Original image scale range
49.0 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~147 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
77°, with the Sun about 13° above the horizon

Solar longitude
211.0°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  126°
Sub-solar azimuth:  37.4°
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   (382MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (193MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (264MB)
non-map           (282MB)

IRB color
map projected  (147MB)
non-map           (273MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (416MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (373MB)

RGB color
non map           (244MB)
10K (TIFF)

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.