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Poor Astronomy | A white christmas for the red planet



Did you know that Mars has seasons similar to Earth's? The reason why we have seasons is that the earth is inclined; its axis of rotation is tilted by about 23.5 ° with respect to its orbit (which we call the inclination). Mars is inclined by about 25 °, so the seasons are quite similar to ours.

But the orbit of Mars is almost twice as long as ours, so the seasons are almost twice as long. If you like the winter, Mars is the place for you. Bonus: It's farther from the sun, so it gets colder! And if you live near its poles why can you have winter all year round?

And if you like ice skating, Mars also offers there. How about a skating rink over 80 kilometers?

This is Korolev, a huge impact crater on Mars. It is about 73 ° north latitude, not too far from the northern ice cap of the planet, where it is so cold and the sun is so low in the sky that the ice covers the crater 687 days of the year. The crater floor is about 2 km deep (compared to the area called Planum Boreum or "northern lowlands"), but the ice forms a hill in the middle, which is almost 2 km high and almost reaches back to the plain. The crater rim is still 2 km high in some places.

If you want to skate there, I recommend starting at the top of the hill and being ready to brake hard on the bottom.

By the way, ice cream is almost pure water ice! There is a lot of it, maybe up to 2,000 cubic kilometers. If it were not so far north, it could be a good source for future human bases … and future hipster astronauts will love it as the ice has apparently been deposited locally rather than just remnants of the glacier's retreat. When glaciers retreat across an area, they sometimes leave ice in local depression. In this case, however, it looks like this ice is being built up by periodic deposits ̵

1; much of this area has preserved its ice in this way. And that has happened lately … at least in the last million years. Lately enough for Mars.

The image of the crater was taken by the Mars Express Orbiter of the European Space Agency, which was launched in 2003 and slid into orbit on Mars on December 25: today exactly 15 years ago!

What a cultivation tribute for this anniversary on this day; a winter festival, a beautiful view of a huge reservoir of water and, of course, the chance to see a white Christmas on Mars every Christmas. Even if it is red.


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