Martian crater filled with ice year-round

Recently released images show the Korolev Crater on Mars is filled with ice year-round. (Photo: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

Combined ShapeCaption
Recently released images show the Korolev Crater on Mars is filled with ice year-round. (Photo: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

A crater near Mars’ north pole is permanently filled with ice, recently released images show.

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Five image pieces of the Korolev Crater taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera aboard the Mars Express were digitally stitched together and offer a glimpse of the complex topography on the red planet, according to the European Space Agency.

The Korolev Crater, named for Russian chief rocket engineer Sergei Korolev, is more than 50 miles across and filled with a mound of ice more than 1 mile thick.

Because of the shape of the terrain near the rim of the crater, a phenomenon known as a cold trap occurs, creating a layer of cold air above the ice that keeps it stable and from disappearing.

The European Space Agency released the images Thursday taken from the Mars Express, which launched June 2, 2003. It reached Mars about six months later and has orbited around the planet for the last 15 years.

The first images of the Korolev Crater were released in April. Those were taken by the Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System, or CaSSIS, device aboard the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.

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