Using satellite data, the European Space Agency (ESA) produced a fantastic new image of the spirals at the north pole of Mars. AT Red Planet has never looked so attractive.
This new image generated from 32 individual photos taken between 2004 and 2010, covers an area of about one million square km. The data were obtained using the ESA Mars Express and the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) which is aboard the NASA Mars Global Surveyor mission.
What is Swirling spirals at the north pole of Mars?
Just like Earth, Mars has an ice cap, but instead of containing water, Mars ice also includes significant amounts of carbon dioxide. So yes, the northern tip of Mars is a vast area covered in thick layers of dry ice.
The case during the winter months, when about 30% of all carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere precipitates on this shell and produces a dry ice 90 or 120 centimeters thick. With summer, this ice melts and the resulting gas returns to the air.
As for these dramatic spirals, they are caused by strong polar winds. The bursts blow from the center high toward the lower edges of the polar cap and are twist by the same force of Coriolis that makes the Hurricanes have their original format here on Earth.
The north pole of Mars has some striking features, such as a canyon 500 kilometers long and two kilometers deep, called Chasma Boreale. Scientists suspect that this canyon has become deeper and deeper as time passes as new ice deposits accumulate around it.
Radar searches made by Mars Express and the Mars Observation Orbiter suggest that the ice cap is made up of different layers of ice and dust, some one and a half kilometers thick.
The presence of ice-water on Mars is not only interesting from a scientific perspective. It is also important for any aspiring settlers who wish to live – and have something to drink – on the Red Planet.
The presence of this ice on Mars is not only interesting from a scientific perspective. It is also essential for the plan of settlement of the planet.
Overall, Mars contains much underground water, but this water will be difficult to obtain, especially for settlers who are trying to live in harsh conditions. The complicate matters, this underground water contains significant amounts of salt, which will require some desalination (again, a complicated process even in the best conditions).
The best place to get water, therefore, will probably be in the polar regions of the planet. The worst case scenario.
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