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     Mars North Pole

    MarsESA has published a picture of the North Pole of Mars, from pictures built up from imagery taken over several years, to produce a complete picture of the North Polar region.

    The ice cap is a permanent fixture, but in the winter season – as it is now in early 2017 – temperatures are cold enough for around 30 percent of the carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere to precipitate onto the cap, adding a seasonal layer up to a metre thick. During the warmer summer months most of the carbon dioxide ice turns directly into gas and escapes into the atmosphere, leaving behind the water-ice layers.


    Strong winds are thought to have played an important role in shaping the ice cap over time, blowing from the elevated centre towards its lower edges and twisted by the same Coriolis force that causes hurricanes to spiral on Earth. One particularly prominent feature in the colour mosaic of Mars north polar ice cap (see ESA article for image) is a 500 km-long, 2 km-deep trench that almost cuts the cap in two. The plunging canyon, known as Chasma Boreale, is thought to be a relatively old feature, forming before the ice–dust spiral features, and seemingly growing deeper as new ice deposits built up around it. Subsurface investigations by radar instruments on-board Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter revealed that the ice cap is made up of many individual layers of ice and dust extending to a depth of around 2 km. For more information, and the full text of the article and very fine pictures, see the original article here.


    Note: Source: ESA



    Associated Topics

    Astronautics

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