Just released by the European Space Agency (ESA), this stunning image shows Mars’s southern polar ice cap, as rarely seen before.
This is a permanent feature, composed of frozen water and carbon dioxide, and is 3km deep in places. It looks flat in this amazing image, but is in fact a mixed terrain of peaks, troughs and plateaus. During the martian winter, this south polar region receives an extra layer of ices, spreading out across the planes, but this thinner layer dissipates at the onset of spring.
The original data for this image was captured in December 2012 by ESA’s Mars Express orbiter. It has now been meticulously processed by Bill Dunford, pulling out incredible detail and colour, reminiscent of a swirling mug of cappuccino.