Here Are 5 Stumping Images of Mars’ North Pole Covered With 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. 

Here’s another set of striking images from Mars. This time, ESA’s Mars Express Orbiter has snapped a series of images of the icy cap sitting atop Mars’ Northern Pole.

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 mixture of colors ranging from bright whites which denote water ice on Mars, to the dark reds and brown colors of the Martian dust.

But in addition to the exquisite colors of the Martian surface, the images show a number of interesting phenomena on the northern ole of the red planet.

Published by the European Space Agency, the images clearly show the dark red and ochre-hued troughs 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 troughs curve and bend 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 a number of different 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 the spiraling pattern we see in the images.

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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 showing 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 areas of higher elevations and flow down 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-wide of the North pole of the red planet (available for download here) are made of data that was gathered on 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 were composed using 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 past history of the red planet, particularly concerning how its climate has evolved and changed over the course of millions of years.

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