Swirling polar ice caps revealed on Mars
Mars is revealing itself not to be the featureless red wasteland scientists once thought it was. New images from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission have captured the delicate swirls of ice at the planet’s north pole.
The idea that Mars may be capable of harbouring life has fuelled the space industry’s obsession. There are currently eight operational missions to the Red Planet – a mix of orbital, lander and rover types.
Like Earth, both poles on Mars are permanently covered in frozen ice caps. In the winter months, the plummeting temperatures make it cold enough for 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere to freeze, adding a layer of ice onto its poles.