Icy Wonderland

Although the season is late spring, carbon dioxide ice still covers much of the surface at this high latitude site. It is still a chilly -128 degrees Celsius.

The weak boundaries of the polygonal structure of the surface have been eroded by spring sublimation of carbon dioxide as energy from the Sun turns ice to gas. The larger troughs in this image accentuate the surface polygonal structure, while the narrow cracks show the erosion caused when carbon dioxide gas escapes from under the seasonal ice layer carrying fine material from the surface.

The dark fans in this image are made up of small particles from the surface deposited on top of the seasonal layer of ice. The fans originate at a crack, a weak spot that allows the gas to escape. The material is deposited in a direction determined by the direction of the wind as the gas was escaping.

Written by: Candy Hansen (audio: Tre Gibbs)   (4 February 2015)

More info and image formats at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_039633_0950

Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona