Cliffs of Ice
Cliffs of Ice
ESP_074914_1225  Science Theme: Mass Wasting Processes
The mid-latitudes of Mars are mostly covered with smooth material that scientists have suspected to be ice for some time. The ground is uniform and dusty and does not reveal many clues about what lies beneath the surface.

However, sometimes a feature like a cliff cuts through the terrain and gives us a glimpse of this buried icy material. The cliff in this image is one example out of a few dozen that are known.

The bright material on the cliff face is icy and is preserved only because the cliff points away from the equator, so it is shaded most of the time. Faint bands on the cliff might indicate layers in the ice that record different climate conditions. We do not know how much time this ice took to accumulate here, but studies elsewhere on Mars indicate that material like this is sometimes at least tens of millions of years old.

Written by: Shane Byrne  (25 August 2022)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_074980_1225.
Acquisition date
20 July 2022

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
250.5 km (155.7 miles)

Original image scale range
25.1 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~75 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
47°, with the Sun about 43° above the horizon

Solar longitude
269.6°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  28.0°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
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Merged IRB
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map-projected   (651MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (351MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (257MB)
non-map           (450MB)

IRB color
map projected  (97MB)
non-map           (355MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (183MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (174MB)

RGB color
non map           (346MB)
Map-projected, reduced-resolution
Full resolution JP2 download
Anaglyph details page

10K (TIFF)

B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
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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.