European Spacecraft Looks At Ice-filled Crater On Mars

Posted: Dec 28 2018, 10:43am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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European Spacecraft Looks at Ice-filled Crater on Mars
Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

The well-preserved crater contains a mound of nearly 2 kilometers thick water ice that remains stable throughout the year.

Impact craters are a common feature on Martian surface. Craters are formed by impact of space rocks and can reveal a lot about the region on which they occur. The image above shows a crater named Korolev on the Red Planet. It is a composite made from several images taken by European Space Agency's Mars Express and is assembled to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the spacecraft’s arrival at Mars.

ESA's Mars Express mission launched on 2 June 2003 and entered orbit around Mars on 25 December. At that time, High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) onboard the Mars Express took images of five different 'strips' of Korolev crater each at a different orbit. These images have been combined to form a single detailed image, which offers a more complete view of the terrain in and around the Korolev crater.

Korolev crater is 82 kilometers across and lies in the north pole of Mars, near a large patch of dune-filled terrain. The material inside the crater is ice. Most striking is a mound of some 2 kilometers thick water ice that stays same all year round. Researchers have also developed an explanation for this particular crater on the surface on Mars. They believe it is caused by an interesting phenomenon known as a 'cold trap.' In planetary science, a cold trap is a region that is so cold that whatever comes into contact with the surface remains stable for a long period of time, perhaps up to billions of years.

“The very deepest parts of Korolev crater, those containing ice, act as a natural cold trap: the air moving over the deposit of ice cools down and sinks, creating a layer of cold air that sits directly above the ice itself. Behaving as a shield, this layer helps the ice remain stable and stops it from heating up and disappearing. Air is a poor conductor of heat, exacerbating this effect and keeping Korolev crater permanently icy.” ESA statement reads.

Korolev crater is named after the chief rocket engineer and spacecraft designer Sergei Korolev. Korolev was part of the many Soviet space missions including Sputnik - the first artificial satellite successfully sent into orbit around the Earth.

Koroleve crater is a well-preserved example of past activity on Mars and has also been of interest to other missions. Most recently ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which began operating at Mars on 28 April 2018, captured a close-up view of Korolev crater and highlighted its intriguing shape and structure.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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