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A Wall of Ice

The right part of the image shows a smooth and pristine appearing surface with some visible layering, but untouched by impact cratering processes. This means, that the surface is very young, probably rejuvenating every Martian year. Two large semicircular cliffs, the larger one measuring 20 km in diameter can be found. They are located at a so-called polar trough, a morphologic feature created by the erosional force of the wind. These clockwise oriented troughs create the characteristic spiral pattern of the polar plateau. The cliffs presented in this HRSC observation display a vertical wall of layered ice, in some places more than a kilometer high. Very well visible are the sharp shadows underlining the steepness of the cliffs. This becomes strikingly clear by looking at the anaglyph image. At the base of the cliffs, erosional features can be spotted exposing more layers and also large frost covered dune fields. In summer, these dunes will show a very dark to black color. The left part of the image is dominated by a giant elongated dune field, stretching for more than 150 km within this image. It looks as if the sands building up this dune field could originate from erosion of the polar deposits at the large scarp visible here.