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Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Winter Frosted Dunes in Kaiser Crater

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-272, 31 January 2001


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As the Mars Global Surveyor Primary Mission draws to an end, the southern hemisphere of Mars is in the depths of winter. At high latitudes, it is dark most, if not all, of the day. Even at middle latitudes, the sun shines only thinly through a veil of water and carbon dioxide ice clouds, and the ground is so cold that carbon dioxide frosts have formed. Kaiser Crater (47°S, 340°W) is one such place. At a latitude comparable to Seattle, Washington, Duluth, Minnesota, or Helena, Montana, Kaiser Crater is studied primarily because of the sand dune field found within the confines of its walls (lower center of the Mars Orbiter Camera image, above). The normally dark-gray or blue-black sand can be seen in this image to be shaded with light-toned frost. Other parts of the crater are also frosted. Kaiser Crater and its dunes were the subject of an earlier presentation of results (see "Dark Sand Dunes on the Floor of Kaiser Crater" MOC Release MOC2-33A, -33B, -33C). Close-up pictures of these and other dunes in the region show details of their snow-cover, including small avalanches (see "Dune Activity in Proctor Crater" MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-170). The two Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera images that comprise this color view (M23-01751 and M23-01752) were acquired on January 26, 2001.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, CA. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, CA and Denver, CO.

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