Natural color image of Chasma Boreale, a large canyon carved into the edge of Mars’ north polar ice cap. The large cliff at image center is 1.4 km (4,600 feet) high, and exposes alternating layers of ice and dust that have accumulated over tens of thousands of years. Computer models suggest that this canyon is formed by cold air flowing off the polar cap during winter, creating gusty winds that favor the removal of material. Some evidence for this can be seen in the large dune field filling the canyon floor.
This natural color was created using the CRISM imaging spectrometer. Each pixel of a CRISM image contains a 500 point spectrum, from which a color can be reconstructed. This reconstructed color was overlaid on a higher-resolution image taken with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera (CTX), which simultaneously took a photo while CRISM was collecting data.
This image was taken on November 28, 2006. It uses CRISM observation HRL0000330c and CTX observation P01_001593_2635_XI_83N241W
Image Credit: NASA / JPL / JHUAPL / MSSS / Justin Cowart
Tagged: , Mars , Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter , CRISM , CTX , Chasma Boreale , ice cap , Mars North Pole , dunes