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Images of an "ever-icy" Martian crater reveal a distant yet mesmerizing winter wonderland.
What appears to be a bowl of fresh snow in this imagery released by the European Space Agency (ESA) on Thursday (Dec. 20) is actually an ice deposit chilling the air moving over it, agency officials said in a statement.
Ice - Parts - Formation - Korolev - Crater
Ice is found in the deepest parts of this formation, called Korolev Crater, and as air moves over the ice, it cools down and sinks, producing cold air right above the chilly deposit.
This image from ESA's Mars Express shows Korolev crater, and is composed of five observations, each one from a different orbit of the spacecraft. It's High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) instrument took the data that formed the image.
ESA - Officials - Phenomenon - Trap - Air
ESA officials called this phenomenon a "cold trap" because the air acts as a shield to keep the crater "permanently icy."
Korolev Crater is 82 kilometers across (51 miles) and found just south of terrain that wraps around Olympia Undae, Mars' northern polar cap. The crater floor can reach depths of two kilometers (1.2 miles) below its rim, deeper than Earth's...
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