Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Mars: The North Pole | United Arab Emirates Hope Mission

Mars: The North Pole | United Arab Emirates Hope Mission

At the north and south poles of Mars lie thick stacks of flat-lying sheets of dust and water ice: the ice caps. These are called Planum Boreum (north) and Planum Australe (south). Both were laid down like pages in a book during countless cycles of climate changes. Scientists hope to read this book of Mars climate history using the layers. How far back does the record go? The time scale depends on which polar feature you study: some come and go in just a single Mars year (1.9 Earth years), while others have endured for perhaps a billion years.

Ice collects in the polar regions because Mars' rotation axis tilts about 25° to its orbit around the Sun. This gives Mars four distinct seasons, similar to those on Earth. But polar winters on Mars are much colder (–153° Celsius or –243° Fahrenheit) than the coldest winters on Earth.

Mars becomes cold enough for carbon dioxide (CO2) gas to condense directly out of the atmosphere as snow or frost. As temperatures drop through autumn, clouds form over each polar region. These merge into a dense hood of water ice clouds and CO2 ice clouds. The snow and frost that falls from the clouds blankets much of the polar region, forming a broad seasonal ice cap. 

When spring returns, the CO2 ice cap sublimates—changes directly from a solid into a gas—as temperatures warm above –130° C (–202° F).  Every year, about 25 percent of the Martian atmosphere cycles through these seasonal ice caps.

(Source: NASA/Arizona State University)

The Emirates Mars Mission is a United Arab Emirates Space Agency uncrewed space exploration mission to Mars. The Hope orbiter was launched on July 19, 2020, and went into orbit around Mars on February 9, 2021. The mission design, development, and operations are led by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). The spacecraft was assembled in the United States at the University of Colorado Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), with support from Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of California, Berkeley.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Image Credit: Emirates Mars Mission/EXI/Jason Major

Image Date: May 24, 2021

Release Date: February 7, 2022

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