Winter Wonderland Discovered On Martian North Pole

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If you live in the Northern United States, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a white Christmas.

If you live on Mars, perhaps there’s an even better one.

The European Space Agency (ESA)’s Mars Express mission recently captured some snowy photos within the Korolev crater near the north pole of Mars. The images show ice over a mile thick, spanning the 50-mile crater.

According to the BBC, the Mars Express mission is the ESA’s first attempt at observing another planet, launched on June 2, 2003. Mars Express entered Martian orbit by Christmas Day that year.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
The surface of Mars is covered in red dust and rock.


Pictures taken by the Mars Express’ High Resolution Stereo Camera show a massive cauldron of ice and snow, surrounded by the characteristic red dust of Mars.

Source: YouTube/GeoBeats News
A satellite from the European Space Agency has captured images of the icy north pole of Mars.


According to the ESA:

“It is an especially well-preserved example of a martian crater and is filled not by snow but ice, with its centre hosting a mound of water ice some 1.8 kilometres thick all year round,

This ever-icy presence is due to an interesting phenomenon known as a ‘cold trap’, which occurs as the name suggests. The crater’s floor is deep, lying some two kilometres vertically beneath its rim.

The very deepest parts of Korolev crater, those containing ice, act as a natural cold trap: the air moving over the deposit of ice cools down and sinks, creating a layer of cold air that sits directly above the ice itself.

Behaving as a shield, this layer helps the ice remain stable and stops it from heating up and disappearing. Air is a poor conductor of heat, exacerbating this effect and keeping Korolev crater permanently icy.”

Source: YouTube/GeoBeats News
The Mars Express satellite has been orbiting Mars for 15 years.


The Weather Channel reports that there are six other spacecraft currently orbiting the red planet, three operated by NASA, two from the ESA and one from Indian Space Research Organisation.

The Mars Express has been in Mars’ orbit for the last 15 years, capturing photographs of the Martian surface all the while. Thanks to the work of the terrestrial ESA team, those images have been stitched into a 3D model of the Martian “winter wonderland.”

Source: YouTube/GeoBeats News
The ice was discovered in Mars’ Korolev crater.

Learn more in the video below.

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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