discover the universe
Sunday February 18th 2018

Mars Northern Polar Region

Mars Northern Ice Cap, Credit ESA
Mars Northern Ice Cap, Image: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Mars does not loose any of its attraction, particularly not in view of future manned Mars missions. This image was acquired by the Mars Express High-Resolution Stereo Camera on 17 May 2010 and shows a part of the northern polar region of Mars at the northern hemisphere summer solstice.

The polar ice deposits follow the seasonal cycles. Studies made by Mars Express’s OMEGA instrument shows that the cap is covered by frozen water and carbon dioxide ice in winter and spring but by this point in the martian year all of the carbon dioxide ice has warmed and evaporated into the planet’s atmosphere.

Only water ice is left behind, which shows up as bright white areas in this picture. From these layers, large bursts of water vapour are occasionally released into the atmosphere.

In winter, part of the atmosphere recondenses as frost and snow on the northern cap. These seasonal deposits can extend as far south as 45°N latitude and be up to a metre thick.

Another phenomenon occurs on the curved scarps of the northern polar cap, such as the Rupes Tenuis slope (on the left of this image). During spring, the seasonal carbon dioxide layer is covered by water frost. At certain times, winds remove the the millimetre-thick top layer of frozen water, revealing the carbon dioxide ice below.

These processes bear witness to a dynamic water cycle on Mars and may lead to the varying accumulation of water ice over the polar cap.

Original source: ESA images
Image: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin






Submit to redditShare on MyspaceSubmit to StumbleUponDigg This

Recent Articles

Positions of Planets
Positions of Planets

The tables offer monthly positions of the four brightest planets: Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Note, that a [Read More]

Planets, Dwarf Planets and Small Solar System Bodies
Planets, Dwarf Planets and Small Solar System Bodies

Questions and Answers By: International Astronomical Union Source: Q: What is the [Read More]

Pluto and the Developing Landscape of Our Solar System
Pluto and the Developing Landscape of Our Solar System

By: International Astronomical Union Source: The discovery of Pluto Nearly eighty [Read More]


Jupiter is the fifth and largest planet in our solar system. It is a gas giant which is primarily composed of hydrogen [Read More]