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Frost Build-Up Revealed in ESA's Image of Mars

Jan 25, 2017 11:48 AM EST
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The European Space Agency (ESA) released an image of the frost build up in the northern part of Mars. The animated gif showed the 73 x 41-kilometer section covered with an ice cap.

The frost was recorded in November and December in 2004. ESA's mission Mars Express is responsible for capturing the imagery that was recently released to the public. To take the image, the Mars Express spacecraft used the High-Resolution Stereo Camera during its first year on the red planet. Today, Mars Express had already completed 13 years.

The image was exactly taken on Nov. 23 during the spacecraft's 1097th orbit, according to ESA. The same spot was again photographed on Dec. 30, 2004, during the 1219th orbit. The images were interlaced and centered at 79.94ºN / 44.11ºE. This process gave the image a smoother appearance.

Parts of Mars are covered with water-ice as deep as 2 kilometers. This is due to the climate changes on the red planet where seasonal melting of ice mixed with dust occurs.

The frozen water-ice on Mars is further evidence that there is a changing Martian climate. In the winter season, the frost is covered with a few centimeters to up to a meter thick of carbon dioxide ice. During summer or warmer days, carbon dioxide tends to escape leaving water-ice layers, according to a report.

Mars Express is currently exploring the red planet to further understand its climate, atmosphere, structure, mineralogy, and composition. ESA is not the only nation interested to investigate Mars being the most conducive planet to search for alien life in the Solar System. Since 2004, Mars Express had already greatly contributed to science.

"The mission has also provided the most complete map of the chemical composition of the atmosphere, indicating the possible presence of methane, which on Earth is attributed to active volcanism and biochemical processes," ESA said.

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