Ice-spy: Amazing new pictures of Mars’ frozen polar caps
The pictures show cratered highland regions of Mars that date back billions of years.
The images were taken on February 25 – technically, summertime on the Red Planet – by Mars Express, a spacecraft launched by the ESA in 2003.
They feature an ice cap that consists of frozen water and carbon dioxide.
The southern ice cap recedes in the summer, but can reach 350 kilometers across during a Martian winter.
The seasons on Mars last about twice as long as on Earth, with the Martian year equaling 687 Earth days.
This camera on Mars Express usually points down straight at the Mars surface from 300 kilometers, but these images were taken from a 10,000-kilometer orbit.
The Mars Express mission began acquiring data in 2005. Over the last decade, it sent to Earth pictures of the famous Cydonia region, the location of the “Face of Mars,” and mapped the Mars surface for the first time ever in 2013.
The Red Planet provided scientists with food for thought: at the end of August, a strangely-shaped Mars crater, discovering water ice in it, and much closer to the surface than ever before.
And of course the images became a gold mine for UFO lovers from around the globe. Studying the pictures, they spotted anything from “alien woman with breasts,” to a “crashed UFO” similar to a Star Wars destroyer ship and bizarre photos of alien-like oddities that instantly went viral.