Erosion of Steep Scarp of the South Polar Layered Deposits

This image shows spectacular erosion of a steep scarp in the icy layered deposits on the South Pole of Mars.

There are small and large alcoves , one of which (on the right) leads to a bright deposit. This must be a recent avalanche deposit, because the ice should sublimate rapidly after being exposed from beneath the protective cover of dust that develops on the surface.

The alcoves may form by a combination of sublimation and collapse. HiRISE is monitoring this site and adjacent areas for changes, to better understand the active processes.

Written by: Alfred McEwen (audio by Tre Gibbs)   (3 April 2013)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_030854_1080 .

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Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona