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A Martian Metamorphosis
June 27, 2002
image: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
Three different types of surfaces visible in the North Polar Cap of Mars morph into each other in a way perhaps reminiscent of the works of M. C. Escher. On the bottom dark sand covers the ground, while the center shows a transition to a dune field. On the top a transition is made to a much lighter surface, likely containing a larger amount of ice. Shadows indicate that lighter material holds the higher ground, with some steep cliffs on the divide. Dune shapes indicate that wind typically blows toward the lower left.

Mars Global Surveyor, one of two robot spacecraft currently orbiting Mars, took this image in early 2001. Recent images from the other orbiter, Mars Odyssey, have bolstered the hypothesis that a significant amount of water-ice lies beneath the surface near the Martian South Pole.

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