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Christmas on Mars? Spacecraft captures 50-mile-wide icy crater on the Red Planet

connectVideoNASA stunning new pictures of Mars

NASA has some beautiful new images of Mars captured by the Insight lander, the robotic arm when it snapped a photo of her new workplace.

A winter wonderland is situated in the middle of a sand-Mars-surface — at least, that is the story of new images released by the European Space Agency (ESA) of the Red Planet seem to tell.

The beautiful photos that testify of a 50-foot-wide crater filled with ice, were shared by the ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft on Thursday. The Korolev crater is located on the northern lowlands of Mars, and it is consistently covered with a blanket of ice about a meter thick, the ESA said in a recent press release.

“A beautiful #winter wonderland… on #Mars!” the ESA announced in a tweet, which was shared nearly 10,000 times as of Friday afternoon.

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The breathtaking image is a creation made from five photos taken by the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board of the unmanned spacecraft Mars Express. It also features topographical views, of which the full circular depression on the surface of the planet.

“It is a particularly well-preserved example of a crater on mars and is filled not by the snow but ice,” the ESA explained. “This still icy presence is due to an interesting phenomenon known as a ‘cold trap’, which arises as the name suggests.”

“The deepest parts of Korolev crater, with ice, and act as a natural cold trap: the air moves over the deposit of ice, cools down and sinks, creating a layer of cold air directly above the ice cream itself,” the ESA added.

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The extra layer of cold air acts as a shield, preventing the ice never melting. It helps that the crater is located “south” of the planet of the well-known polar cap at Olympia Undae, a huge dune area.

ESA’s Mars Express is the highlight from 15 years of exploring Mars surface this month and will continue to share images of her journey to celebrate the remarkable birthday.

A view of the ice-filled Korolev crater on Mars.
(ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

Just like Earth, Mars has four seasons, although they last about twice as long,” NASA says.

“The southern hemisphere is “harder” seasons than in the north. During the Southern winter, Mars is the furthest away from the Sun in its elliptical orbit around the Sun,” NASA explained in a 2016 blog post.

The majority of the Red Planet is made of sand, which usually fills the air with plumes of red dust, but ice is, in the vicinity of the poles. Also like Earth, Mars has a North and a south pole.

“But while the Earth’s polar ice caps consist solely of water ice, Mars’ polar caps are a combination of water ice and carbon dioxide ice. As the martian seasons change, the carbon dioxide ice sublimates (vaporizes) in summer, the reveal of the surface, and freezes again in the winter,” the University of Arizona’s Phoenix Mars Mission describes on her website for the education.

In September 2012, NASA discovered a stream once ran across the Red Planet.

Scientists had previously found examples that suggested there was ever water on the planet, but the NASA said that this is the evidence of a stream bed was the “first of its kind.”

NASA’s Curiosity rover found evidence of an ancient stream bed in September 2012.
(NASA)

NASA’s car-sized Curiosity rover, a $400 million space vehicle, picked up rocks that were made of old bed of gravel, from which water used to flow where the rover was driving — between the Gale Crater and a mountain in the crater of Mount Sharp.

“The size of the gravel to be transported, we can interpret the water was moving about 3 feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep,” Curiosity science co-investigator William Dietrich of the University of California, Berkeley, said in a blog post on NASA’s website. “Many papers have been written about channels on Mars with many different hypotheses about the flows in them. This is the first time we’re actually seeing water transported gravel on Mars. This is a transition from speculation about the size of the bed material to direct observation.”

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