Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Geography (MS)

Degree Level





Jason A. Tullis

Committee Member

Vincent F. Chevrier

Second Committee Member

Jack D. Cothren


object-based image analysis (OBIA), remote sensing, image analysis, multi-entity identification, Mars


Observations by NASA Mars Global Surveyor showed evidence of rough topography on the South Pole of Mars. The topography is the result of CO2 sublimation processes that occur through the changing seasons on the red planet. These sublimation areas are known to scientists as Swiss Cheese Features (SCF). SCF are erosional degradation pits that have been studied for over two decades. Studies show that these SCF increase in area over time, but these values are collected by hand on a per feature basis. Models for the pit evolution have also played a part in understanding these SCF. This work is time-intensive and can only produce results from relatively small selections of data. Current research lacks the ability to complete image pit object-based and multi-image measurements as well as simultaneously estimate areal statistics. This research investigated the use of object-based image analysis (OBIA) techniques on sublimation pits at high spatial resolution over large temporal domains. This was done using images acquired through the High-Resolution Imager and Science Experiment (HiRISE) onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The approach was tested on selected pits and compared to previous work for stand-alone growth rates. The results of this investigation increase both our capacity to effectively study the CO2 pits as well as our knowledge of pit evolution as a factor of time with implications to understand the CO2 cycle on the Martian South Pole.