Scientists Solve Mystery of Mars’ Off-Center South Pole The Planetary Society

For more than 150 years, astronomers and skywatchers have noticed that Mars’ south pole is off center, and Mariner 4 confirmed it in the mid-1960s with the first close-range images of the Red Planet. But why the cap is offset from its geographical pole has remained an enigma all these years — until two summers ago when a group of planetary observers and theoreticians decided to take on the challenge at the first annual Mars Polar Atmospheric Interactions Workshop, held in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Now, with publication of their research earlier this month* the mystery is officially solved — and not so surprisingly Mars’ dynamic topography is at the heart of it.