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Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Indications of Subsurface Ice: Polygons on the Northern Plains

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-150, 19 July 1999



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Someone's kitchen floor? A stone patio? This picture actually does show a floor--the floor of an old impact crater on the northern plains of Mars. Each "tile" is somewhat larger than a football field. Polygonal patterns are familiar to Mars geologists because they are also common in arctic and antarctic environments on Earth. Typically, such polygons result from the stresses induced in frozen ground by the freeze-thaw cycles of subsurface ice. This picture was taken by MOC in May 1999 and is illuminated from the lower left.


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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