(Released 22 July 2002)
This image, located near 79.6 N and 142.7 E, displays sand dunes covered in CO2 frost. This is a region of Mars that contains circumpolar sand seas. The large sand deposits and the high winds that circulate around the pole allow for the formation of a huge dune field that surrounds the north polar cap. As the northern hemisphere progresses towards winter, CO2 frost condenses out of the atmosphere and covers the dunes. During northern spring, the CO2 sublimates and the dunes are once again uncovered and active. This image was taken as northern spring progresses and the crests of the dunes are just starting to be exposed. The dark dune material absorbs sunlight more efficiently than the brighter frost, aiding in the sublimation of the remaining frost.