Water ice on Mars - the astronomy picture of the day

Posted on Friday, Jul 22 2005 @ 11:36 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
One of NASA's recent astronomy pictures of the day is the image of frozen water in a Martian crater.

What lies on the floor of this Martian crater? A frozen patch of water ice. The robotic Mars Express spacecraft took the above image in early February. The ice pocket was found in a 35-kilometer wide crater that resides 70 degrees north of the Martian equator. There, sunlight is blocked by the 300-meter tall crater wall from vaporizing the water-ice on the crater floor into the thin Martian atmosphere.


The ice pocket may be as deep as 200 meters thick. Frost can be seen around the inner edge on the upper right part of the crater, while part of the lower left crater wall is bathed in sunlight. The existence of water-ice pockets inside craters near the Martian North Pole, like that pictured above and others noted previously, give clues not only about surface conditions in the Martian past but also possible places where future water-based astronauts might do well to land.


About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.



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