Sometimes Mars looks a lot like Earth, with rocky, desert-like panoramas reminiscent of the dry regions of the US Southwest. And sometimes it looks like the faraway alien world it is. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter peered downward at the Red Planet's fantastical-looking south pole and sent back a fascinating image showing otherworldly raised and pitted areas.
The landscape here looks a bit like the side of an ant farm.
"The polar cap is made from carbon dioxide (dry ice), which does not occur naturally on the Earth. The circular pits are holes in this dry ice layer that expand by a few meters each Martian year," NASA explains.
Mars' south pole would not be an ideal winter vacation spot for Earthlings. It can snow dry ice and reach a frigid frost point at -200 Fahrenheit (-130 Celsius).
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took the picture in August and the space agency shared it as part of its Image of the Day series on Monday.