An image of the North Pole of Mars. Image Credit: ESA.

5 Hypnotic Images of Mars’ North Pole Covered in Ice

Here's another collection of stunning images of Mars. This time, we see Mars' North pole covered with ice, dust, and powerful storms raging across the surface. 


The European Space Agency’s Mars Express Orbiter, launched in 2003, is one of the most important contributions to our understanding of the Red Planet. As the first planetary mission conducted by the ESA, its groundbreaking journey marked a significant milestone in the history of space exploration. Over nearly two decades of service, the Mars Express Orbiter has played an instrumental role in studying and elucidating the Martian surface and atmosphere, yielding invaluable information about the planet’s geological history, climate, and potential for harboring life.

Equipped with a ton of instruments

The Mars Express Orbiter has been equipped with a suite of scientific instruments designed for detailed analysis, including a high-resolution stereo camera (HRSC), mineralogical mapping spectrometer (OMEGA), and subsurface sounding radar altimeter (MARSIS). Through these tools, the orbiter has unveiled a wealth of data, from the detection of liquid water under the planet’s south pole to evidence of ancient riverbeds and glaciers, providing unprecedented insight into Mars’ evolution and habitability.

How it has brought Mars to life

Moreover, the Mars Express Orbiter’s high-resolution camera has brought Mars to life for us here on Earth. It has captured stunning, detailed images that have allowed us to see the planet’s craters, valleys, and plains in extraordinary detail. These beautiful and evocative photographs serve not only as vital resources for researchers but also as vivid reminders of the stark beauty of our solar system. Through its ongoing mission, the Mars Express Orbiter continues to expand our knowledge and ignite our imaginations, bridging the gap between Earth and the enigmatic Martian world.

Stunning set of images from Mars

Here’s another set of images from Mars. ESA’s Mars Express Orbiter has snapped images of the icy cap sitting atop Mars’ Northern Pole this time. The images snapped by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter show clear signs of strong winds and stormy activity raging across a portion of the ice sheet of the North Pole on Mars.

An image of the North Pole of Mars showing swathes of ice and strong winds. Image Credit: ESA.
An image of the North Pole of Mars showing swathes of ice and strong winds. Image Credit: ESA.

The images snapped from Space show an alien landscape of colors ranging from bright whites, which denote water ice on Mars, to the Martian dust’s dark reds and brown colors. But in addition to the exquisite colors of the Martian surface, the images show several interesting phenomena on the northern pole of the red planet. Published by the European Space Agency, the images clearly show the dark red and ochre-hued troughs that appear to cut through the ice cap. Experts reveal that these are part of a much wider system of depression that spiral outwards from the center of the north pole.

An image showing Mars' North Pole covered in Ice. Image Credit: ESA.
An image showing Mars’ Northern Pole covered in Ice. Image Credit: ESA.

If viewed on a larger scale, the pattern becomes evident. We can observe how the rippling curve bends outwards in a clear counter-clockwise orientation and warp around the pole, creating a pattern similar to Zebra stripes. According to astronomers, the spiraling features visible in the image are believed to have formed thanks to several processes, the most significant of which is wind erosion.

An image of the North Pole of Mars. Image Credit: ESA.
An image of the North Pole of Mars. Image Credit: ESA.

Powerful winds rage across the Martian surface. Martian winds are believed to circle radially away from the center of the red planet’s north pole. They move outwards cyclically and create a spiraling pattern in the images.

An image of Mars snapped by the Mars Express Orbiter showing powerful wind gusts on the North Pole of Mars. Image Credit: ESA.
An image of Mars snapped by the Mars Express Orbiter shows powerful wind gusts on the North Pole of Mars. Image Credit: ESA.

These odd winds are known among experts as katabatic winds. They move cold and dry air downslope under the force of gravity. They originate in higher elevations and flow into lower and much warmer regions such as valleys and depressions. They are acted upon by the Coriolis force as they move, which causes them to deviate from a straight path and form the aforementioned spiral pattern we see,” reveals the ESA in a statement.


The images above, which are part of a massive wide-angle shor of the North pole of the red planet (available for download here), are made of data gathered in November of 2006 during orbit 3670. The ground resolution of the images is around 15 m/pixel, and the images are centered at about 244°E/85°N. The images used data from the nadir and color channels of the High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC). Experts say that the ice present on Mars’ northern and southern poles may hold precious information about the history of the red planet, particularly concerning how its climate has evolved and changed throughout millions of years.

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Written by Justin Gurkinic

Hey, my name is Justin, and my friends call me Gurk. Why? Becuase of my last name. It sounds like a vegetable. Kind of. I love sleeping and writing. History is my thing.

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