The Mars Express, which orbits around the red planet, has taken stunning images of a massive crater that is filled with water ice. The crater is almost 82 kilometers in diameter and is just a few clicks away from the planet’s North Pole.
Mars, much like Earth, has seasons. During hotter temperatures, the ice would melt and form water (which, of course, would be near freezing). But the ice in the Korolev crater (named after the Russian rocket engineer, Sergei Korolev) doesn’t seem to alter one bit!
The geological feature is called a ‘cold trap’, which is a phenomenon in which the warmth from the surrounding air is not allowed to penetrate the surface of the ice. The air that flows over the ice is too cold and forms a barrier of-sorts on the solid surface. This prevents the warmer air above it from penetrating through the layer and melting the ice.
The crater in itself is massive. It is approx. 1.8 kms deep from the upper surface of the ice and can hold 2200 cubic kilometers of ice, forming a giant ice-skating platform. The above image is a topographic one and depicts the elevations in the crater and surrounding geographical structures.
Images via ESA/DLR/FU Berlin