Dunes, Craters and Ice: Just Another Spring on Mars
Springtime on Mars is quite a bit balmier than the planet's winter season, but it's still plenty icy near the Red Planet's poles. The European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter snapped this photo of ice deposits near the Martian south pole on January 15, in the planet's southern spring. (Mars's seasons last roughly two seasons on Earth; it is now summertime in the southern Martian hemisphere.)
The image shows a region between about 70 degrees and 75 degrees southern latitude, near a cliff named Ulyxis Rupes. North is up; south is down. The lower (southern) portion of the image shows part of the Martian polar ice shield; in the center are ice deposits covered by wind-shaped dunes. Toward the top (northern) end of the image, the ice becomes sparser, but the walls of a large impact crater in the upper-left corner provide a refuge for an oblong ice deposit on the crater floor.