Exposure of South Polar Layered Deposits
Exposure of South Polar Layered Deposits
PSP_004996_1065  Science Theme: Polar Geology


This observation shows layering in the south polar layered deposit exposed on a scarp. The south polar layered deposits are composed primarily of water ice with a small amount of dust. The layers formed over a large area near the south pole, probably over the past few million years. They are believed to record recent global climate changes on Mars in much the same way that polar ice in Greenland and Antarctica provide information about varying climatic conditions on Earth.

The subimage shows a close up of the layers (952 x 555; 2 MB). Some layers closer to the upper right corner of the subimage have an irregular wavy appearance. This may have been caused by the flow of ice at some point in the past. Some layers closer to the lower left corner of the subimage appear to be converging while others seem truncated. These are called unconformities. Unconformities form when a previous episode of erosion removes all or part of a layer and is later followed by more deposition.

Written by: Maria Banks  (29 August 2007)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_005339_1065.
Acquisition date
20 August 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
247.8 km (154.0 miles)

Original image scale range
24.8 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
57°, with the Sun about 33° above the horizon

Solar longitude
299.1°, Northern Winter

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North azimuth:  100°
Sub-solar azimuth:  48.6°
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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.