This image shows the vast plains of the northern polar region of Mars, as seen by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander shortly after touching down on the Red Planet. The flat landscape is strewn with tiny pebbles and shows polygonal cracking.
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Looking out Across the Martian Polar Plains

Click here for animation of PIA10693 How Phoenix Gets a Look at its Footing
Click on the image for the animation

This movie shows the vast plains of the northern polar region of Mars, as seen by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander shortly after touching down on the Red Planet. The flat landscape is strewn with tiny pebbles and shows polygonal cracking, a pattern seen widely in Martian high latitudes and also observed in permafrost terrains on Earth. The polygonal cracking is believed to have resulted from seasonal contraction and expansion of surface ice.

Phoenix touched down on Mars at 4:53 p.m. Pacific Time (7:53 p.m. Eastern Time), May 25, 2008, in an arctic region called Vastitas Borealis, at 68 degrees north latitude, 234 degrees east longitude.

This is an approximate-color image taken by the spacecraft's Surface Stereo Imager, inferred from two color filters, a violet, 450-nanometer filter and an infrared, 750-nanometer filter.

The Phoenix Mission is led by the University of Arizona, Tucson, on behalf of NASA. Project management of the mission is by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Spacecraft development is by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.

Photojournal Note: As planned, the Phoenix lander, which landed May 25, 2008 23:53 UTC, ended communications in November 2008, about six months after landing, when its solar panels ceased operating in the dark Martian winter.

Image details

ID#:
PIA10693

Date added:
2008-05-26

Target:
Mars

Mission:
Phoenix

Spacecraft:
Phoenix Mars Lander

Instruments:
Surface Stereo Imager (SSI)

Rating:



Views:
1,475

Full-Res TIFF:
PIA10693.tif (0.69 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA10693.jpg (0.02 MB)

Image credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Texas A&M