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Mars' south polar 'fingerprint' terrain as seen from the martian surface; fog; terrestrial planet; telluric planet; rocky planet; iron (III) oxide; hematite; regolith; dry ice - Space Art Illustration
 

Mars' south polar "fingerprint" terrain

A spring sunrise reveals a bizarre landscape unlike any other in the Solar System. Frozen carbon dioxide and water ice form long, meandering troughs over Mars' south pole, looking from orbit like a giant fingerprint.

The image above suggests how this terrain might look from a perspective much closer to the surface: an altitude of a few hundred feet. While it is not known exactly what processes shaped this landscape, the troughs are believed to have formed through collapse and widening by sublimation of carbon dioxide and water ices.

This rendering is based upon an image of Mars' south pole taken by the Mars Global Surveyor on 4 August 2000 (MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-217).

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Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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