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Take A Look At The Swirling Spirals Of Mars' North Pole

First Posted: Feb 04, 2017 03:10 AM EST
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The European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter captured images of Mars' north pole ice cap with strange and spectacular swirling formations. The image was taken between 2004 and 2010 by ESO's orbiter.

The ice cap has an area of about a million square kilometers or 386 square miles. It comprises of ice, sand and dust layers that reach down to a depth of about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers). ESA captured two views of the ice cap, one from a sideways perspective and one aerial of the massive ice cap, according to CNET.

According to ESA, the strong winds played a key role in the formation of the ice cap over time. It could blow from the elevated center towards its lower edges and twisted. This just like the Coriolis force that triggers hurricanes to spiral on the planet Earth.

During a winter season, the temperatures are cold enough for about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mars to precipitate onto the ice cap. This adds a seasonal layer up to a meter thick. Meanwhile, during the warmer summer months, most of the carbon dioxide ice converts into gas and vanish into the atmosphere that leaves behind the water-ice layers.This shows how the climate of the planet Mars has changed as it tilts and orbits for over thousands of years, according to Phys.org. 

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