If you live in the Northern United States, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a white Christmas.
If you live on Mars, perhaps there’s an even better one.
The European Space Agency (ESA)’s Mars Express mission recently captured some snowy photos within the Korolev crater near the north pole of Mars. The images show ice over a mile thick, spanning the 50-mile crater.
According to the BBC, the Mars Express mission is the ESA’s first attempt at observing another planet, launched on June 2, 2003. Mars Express entered Martian orbit by Christmas Day that year.
Pictures taken by the Mars Express’ High Resolution Stereo Camera show a massive cauldron of ice and snow, surrounded by the characteristic red dust of Mars.
According to the ESA:
The Weather Channel reports that there are six other spacecraft currently orbiting the red planet, three operated by NASA, two from the ESA and one from Indian Space Research Organisation.
The Mars Express has been in Mars’ orbit for the last 15 years, capturing photographs of the Martian surface all the while. Thanks to the work of the terrestrial ESA team, those images have been stitched into a 3D model of the Martian “winter wonderland.”
Learn more in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.