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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Mars Crater Lake

Mars Crater Lake

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, February 11, 2020/Categories: natural history, photography, art and design, environment, adventure

                                        Korolev Crater on Mars, 12-20-2018 (credit: ESA/Mars Express)

Mars also has a 'crater lake' but this one is frozen. According the European Space Agencies (ESA), their Mars Express orbiter has captured images of the frozen lake near the Martian North Pole. Mars Express was launched in June 2003, reached Mars six months later, and went into orbit on Christmas Day. The new image appears to show fresh snow covering the frozen lake.

According to the ESA, the lake was photographed by the orbiter's Hi-Res stereo camera from five separate passes over Korolev crater. Each pass captured a different angle allowing the images to be combined into a single photograph. The captures were taken from multiple perspectives, contexts, and landscape angles showing the terrain around the crater in great detail.


                  Mars Express Stereo Camera "Strips" (credit: ESA-Mars Express)

Korolev Crater is located in the northern lowlands of Mars near dune-filled terrain that encircles part of the polar ice cap. It is a exciting example of a Martian crater being filled by water ice, not snow. The floor is deep, lying over a mile beneath the rim and ice in the center is over a mile thick. It remains solid due to a natural ‘cold trap’ in the deepest parts of the crater. Air moving over the ice cools and sinks, creating a thick cold layer directly above the frozen lake itself. The cold air acts like a shield keeping the ice from warming and sublimating into a gas during the Martian summer thereby keeping Korolev permanently ice covered. The ESA's new discovery is presented in a short video.

The frozen lake would make a good target for landing a rover or an aerial drone to fly above the ice to produce detailed maps and other analyses.



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