It appears Earth isn’t the only planet that had a white Christmas!
According to DailyMail, the European Space Agency’s Mars Express has returned with an array of stunning images displaying a giant crater on the planet.
The crater, named the Korolev Crater, is quite large, measuring in at 50 miles wide in the northern lowlands of the red planet. Although discovering a crater on Mars may not appear to be huge news, it is what was found inside of it that was quite the surprise! According to the European Space Agency, the crater itself is “an especially well-preserved example of a Martian crater,” featuring a very cold surprise.
Located within the crater was not snow, but massive amounts of ice. According to the source, the planet hosts a mound of water ice that can measure up to 1.8 kilometers thick all year round! As for the Korolev Crater, a huge deposit of ice from a glacier comprised of nearly 528 cubic miles of non-polar ice managed to find its way there. In addition to the ice deposit located within the center of the crater, smaller amounts of water ice are seen distributed on and around the edge of the Korolev Crater appearing as a very thin layer of frost.
Although ice is no stranger to Mars, this much of it and its location within the crater is what is definitely sparking some major interest. This presence of water ice is due to what is called a “cold trap” that is caused by the crater’s floor lying nearly two kilometers beneath its rim, where temperatures are of course, below freezing! Since the crater is quite deep, the lowest areas act as a natural cold trap, which allows “the air moving over the deposit of ice to cool down and sink,” thus creating a layer of air so cold that it can turn just about anything into a solid form, in this case, ice.
With major moves being made in the world of science, and countless missions underway on the red planet, this is yet another step in discovering the surface area of Mars, its temperatures, and climate capabilities the planet holds.