Mars Express Captures Festive Photo Ahead Of Christmas: The Korolev Crater Of Mars

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We’re getting a nice Christmas present from space. The European Space Agency’s Mars Express which is the Red Planet’s orbiter brings us a present ahead of Christmas.

It was able to capture a gorgeous festive photo of the snowy Korolev crater in the northern lowlands of Mars.

The crater has a width of approximately 50 miles and a bit more than a mile depth. It managed to remain very well preserved, and it’s filled with ice during the entire year.

Another fun fact regarding this event is that the satellite entered Mars’ orbit for the first time on December 25, 2003, so that’s why it’s even more related to the holidays.

The cold trap

The permanent frozen condition of the crater is due to a phenomenon that’s called a “cold trap.”

This cools and becomes heavy, getting trapped straight above the ice. It results in creating a cold air shield that keeps the frosty state.

There’s no more liquid water on Mars, but there’s a lot of ice across the planet even in the regolith. The amount of water ice in the crater could be compared to the Great Bear Lake in Northern Canada.

Mars’ crater was named after Sergei Korolev 

Sergei Korolev is the man who carries the crater’s namesake, and he was considered the father of Soviet space tech.

Of all his notable accomplishments during his time with the Soviet space program, Americans may be the most familiar with his work on the Sputnik program which has produced the very first artificial satellite to make orbit back on October 4, 1957.

This accomplishment has marked a significant “win” in the first round of the Cold War era space race.

Korolev’s most famous quote was, “The simpler a design, the better. Anyone can build something complicated.” The existence of the frosted crater is a great tribute.