New Image Reveals Swirling Spirals On Mars North Pole

Posted: Feb 4 2017, 8:04am CST | by , Updated: Feb 4 2017, 8:12am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
New Image Reveals Swirling Spirals on Mars North Pole
Credit: ESA

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The composite image offers a new perspective to the ice cap on Martian terrain

Many features on Martian surface look similar to the ones we find on Earth like volcanoes, canyons, valleys and impact basins. But Mars is a strange world, too. It also contains landscapes that are not observed anywhere else on solar system.

As shown in the image above, the north pole of Mars is cloaked by ice cap with distinctive dark troughs. The image is generated by combining 32 separate images taken over six years of period and cover an area of around a million square kilometers.

The cover of carbon dioxide ice is seasonal or temporary that appears in winter and partially disappears in summer. During the warmer months carbon dioxide directly converts into gas and flows into the atmosphere, leaving only layers of water ice behind.

The swirling spirals on Mars north pole may have been created by the strong Martian winds. When winds blew towards the north, they create spiral patterns on Mars surface. These are similar to hurricane spirals found on Earth.

The image also shows a 500 km-long, 2 km-deep trench that almost cuts through the cap in two but it does not go all the way across it.

A photo posted by ESA (@europeanspaceagency) on

Mars spins on its axis, completing one revolution every 24 hours. The axis of Mars tilts with respect to the orbital plane by almost 25 degrees. This rotation causes seasonal changes on Martian surface in a way similar to Earth.

“Subsurface investigations by radar instruments onboard 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.” Authors wrote on European Space Agency’s website.

New data will help scientists better understand climate changes on the planet and may allow them to determine the age of the Martian polar caps.

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