European Space Agency’s Mars Express and the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) that are currently observing the Red Planet disclosed the new images of the ‘Red Planet’ Mars.


The swirling spirals of Mars
The swirling spirals of Mars, Image Courtesy:

It is clearly visible that the image has swirling spirals on its north polar ice cap. The frozen North Pole of Mars seems like swirls formed in a cone ice cream. The Red Planet has never looked so ‘yummy’!!

Nearly 32 individual orbit ‘strips’ captured between 2004- 2010 created the Mosaic. The strips enclose an area of around a million square kilometres.


As per the information provided by the sources, the spiralling troughs are caused due to freezing and melting of carbon dioxide in the winter season. The ice cap’s distinctive shape is formed due to strong spiralling winds similar to hurricanes on earth. Moreover, the Coriolis force (unique movement of surface winds on the planet) forms the swirls.

Perspective view of Mars' North Polar Ice Cap
Perspective view of Mars’ North Polar Ice Cap, Image Courtesy: Project Avalon

In summer, most of the carbon dioxide turns directly into gas. Hence, it escapes into the atmosphere, thereby leaving behind the water-ice layers.

According to the subsurface investigations by radar instruments on board – Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, this region also consists of multiple layers of ice and dust extending to a depth of around two kilometres.

Besides that, this study serves as a valuable record in depicting the changes of red planet’s climate in accordance with its tilt and orbit varied over hundreds of thousands of years.