The Mar Express spacecraft recently took these gorgeous photos of a huge glacier in the Mars southern polar ice cap. The brilliant white glaciers beautifully stand out against the dusty red planet’s surface.
This image was taken on February 25th, 2015 by the Mars Express spacecraft. The Mars Express generally orbits at a height of 186 miles above the Martian surface, but for this image the Mars Express backed up to 6,151 miles above the surface so the camera could see from one side of the planet to the other.
The shape of Mars’ polar ice cap glacier changes with the season, much as our own polar ice caps do.
There are even some clouds in the upper part of this image. Mars atmosphere is composed of mostly carbon dioxide and a bit of water vapor as opposed to our own atmosphere composed of mostly oxygen and nitrogen.
The surface of Mars in this photo looks warm and cozy, but it’s a chilly -81ºF…
(The Mar Express is a European Space Agency (ESA) exploration spacecraft who’s mission is to explore Mars from above. The Mars Express is the first planetary mission attempted by the ESA. It was launched in 2003 and has been orbiting Mars since 2003.)