Our holidays this year may have been canceled but you can still be transported to Korolev Crater on Mars thanks to a new video from the European Space Agency (ESA).
Images taken by the High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) onboard ESA’s Mars Express Orbiter have been woven together and combined with topographical information to generate a 3D landscape of the crater. The illusion of a flyover was then achieved by recording the landscape from different perspectives. Whichever way you look at it, however, it still looks like a giant pool of marshmallow.
Found to the south of the Red Planet’s North Pole, Korolev Crater measures 82 kilometers (51 miles) wide, and is filled 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) deep with water ice all year round. This is because the depression acts as a natural cold trap. The layer of air on top of the ice is cooled, and, as air is a poor conductor of heat, doesn’t transfer much heat from the hot air above it to the reservoir of ice. In effect, the cool layer of air shields the icy reservoir from melting.
Circling the frozen crater, the latest movie provides a pretty realistic view of the impressive Martian feature, named after the “father of Russian space technology” Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. Korolev was instrumental in the development of the Soyuz rockets' precursor, the R-7 rockets, and in the first human spaceflight, made by Yuri Gagarin in 1961.
But this incredible flyover would not have been possible without the Mars Express Orbiter. Launched in 2003, the spacecraft has provided us with a wealth of information about the Red Planet during its nearly two-decade tenure – a highlight of which was its detection of a huge lake of liquid water at the planet’s South Pole.