Translucent carbon dioxide ice covers the polar regions of Mars seasonally. It is warmed and sublimates (evaporates) from below, and escaping gas carves a numerous channel morphologies.
In this example the channels form a "starburst" pattern, radiating out into feathery extensions. The center of the pattern is being buried with dust and new darker dust fans ring the outer edges. This may be an example of an expanding morphology, where new channels are formed as the older ones fill and are no longer efficiently channeling the subliming gas out.
Image PSP_003443_0980 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on 21-Apr-2007. The complete image is centered at -81.8 degrees latitude, 76.2 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 247.1 km (154.4 miles). At this distance the image scale is 24.7 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~74 cm across are resolved. The image shown here has been map-projected to 25 cm/pixel . The image was taken at a local Mars time of 04:52 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 71 degrees, thus the sun was about 19 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 223.4 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Autumn.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
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