Once again, photos from outer space have managed to blow our minds after images taken on an orbiter in space were released, showing what a “winter wonderland” looks like on the planet Mars. From frost, to gold trimmed cloud-looking formations, to shimmery stained rock formations, these photos have managed to prove that winter on earth isn’t the only fascinating place this time of year.
However, what may be a huge difference is the fact that winter on Mars is much colder than you can imagine, with many of these landscape photos being taken in temperatures as low as -123°C.
The machine that took these photos of the coldest season on the planet Mars was the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera, which happened to be on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
NASA shares that so far, these images happen to be the most “fabulous” discovery they’ve made at the end of winter, taken during the time all that build up ice began to “thaw” out and sublimate into the atmosphere. It’s during this time that the ice takes on these breathtaking yet eerie forms and shapes, which were captured on camera.
NASA shared on their website during the image release, “When winter comes to Mars, the surface is transformed into a truly otherworldly holiday scene. Snow, ice, and frost accompany the season’s sub-zero temperatures. Some of the coldest of these occur at the planet’s poles, where it gets as low as minus 190 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 123 degrees Celsius).”
They added, “Cold as it is, don’t expect snow drifts worthy of the Rocky Mountains. No region of Mars gets more than a few feet of snow, most of which falls over extremely flat areas. And the Red Planet’s elliptical orbit means it takes many more months for winter to come around: a single Mars year is around two Earth years.”
As Mars “thaws” out from the winter frost, it causes geysers on the planet to erupt, allowing sunlight to heat up the gas beneath the translucent ice. When the gas finally bursts out, it sends fans of dust on the surface, which then creates these ethereal surfaces.
Scientists have also chosen to study these fans in order to find out more about Martian winds, and the directions in which they blow.
Notably, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been in orbit since 2006, studying Mars all these years. The spacecraft was originally designed to observe and study the climate and geology of Mars, as well as to find future landing sites for the orbiter, as well as send back collected data from their surface missions on the planet back to the scientists on Earth.
See more about this phenomena in the video below.
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