Red Planet’s dazzling ESA images reveal dramatic frost blanket (TIMELAPSE)
Despite it’s ‘Red Planet’ moniker, Mars is looking pretty frosty. The planet is experiencing an extensive build-up of frost on its north pole, the magnitude of which can be seen in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) new timelapse video.
The images were taken by a high-res camera onboard the ESA’s Mars Express between November 23 and December 30, 2004. When run together, the images show the build-up of frost in a 73x41km (45x25 mile) section of the red planet’s north polar ice cap.
Space Science Image of the Week: Mars Express captures build up of frost at #Mars north pole https://t.co/imbWuXUhWPpic.twitter.com/gLceMbbHwU— ESA Science (@esascience) January 23, 2017
Mars is located about 50 million miles farther away from the sun than Earth so, while it’s ‘Red Planet’ nickname may suggest a warm climate, the surface is actually comprised mostly of layers of water-ice – which can build to a depth of 2km around its north pole.
During summer on Mars, a layer of carbon dioxide (which can vary in thickness from mere centimeters to a meter) melts into vapor and is released into the atmosphere, leaving behind a water-ice surface.
READ MORE: NASA releases rare photo of Earth & Moon, as seen from Mars (PHOTO)
The animated timelapse captures the subtle seasonal changes during colder months when a thin layer of solid carbon dioxide returns.
ESA’s Mars Express has been orbiting Mars for the past 13 years, delivering high-resolution images and precise data of the red planet’s atmospheric composition.