The Story Behind Mars Orbiter’s Perfect Postcard Picture
Winter is coming to Mars, and the European Space Agency’s orbiter has taken an incredible picture of this otherworldly mile-deep ice crater.
So, what are you looking at below? This image shows the frozen heart of a rather cold Korolev crater - a fifty-mile wide scar on the martian planet’s surface caused by another object slamming into the northern lowlands. After this collision, the hole slowly filled with dust and water ice - building into this beautifully cloudy glacier, which measures at an impressive 1.1 miles thick.
It was taken by the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), which takes five different “strips” and stitches them together into one picture. Photos were also captured of different perspectives and the topographic view as well, to give a more complete view of this marvel.
This “cold trap,” as the European Space Agency (ESA) calls it, will continue to exist throughout even the warmer temperatures of the planet - because air that moves over the top of the surface is cooled, which forms a nice and cold barrier between the warmer parts of the atmosphere.
But of course, the ESA’s Mars Orbiter is not alone in their work to record the red planet. Most recently, NASA’s InSight lander successfully touched down and deployed the first ever seismometer onto said planet. It doesn’t really produce the same beautiful picture that the ESA has churned out from their orbiter. But as this will be the first time we have ever been able to measure tremors in the planet, it’s a fascinating next step in our understanding of Mars.
Does it mean we’ll get to live up there? Maybe… I’m not so sure about that. But at least we have the architectural designs sorted if we do.
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