'Nice Big Ice Skating Rink': Shots of Giant Martian Crater Leave Netizens in Awe

CC BY-SA 3.0 / ESA/DLR/FU Berlin / Perspective view of Korolev craterPerspective view of Korolev crater
Perspective view of Korolev crater - Sputnik International
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The European Space Agency suggested their view of a perfect holiday destination when they shared pictures of the snow-capped 82-kilometre-wide Korolev crater, covered with ice throughout the year due to a phenomenon known as a “cold trap”. The tip has a minor drawback - it is over 400 million kilometres away from the Earth.

The ESA has revealed a breathtaking image of the Korolev crater in the northern lowlands of the Red Planet, taken by High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) of the Mars Express mission. The image of the terrain in and around the landscape is a combination of five different “strips”, gathered over orbits. It is also shown in perspective, context, and topographic views.

​The picture was revealed ahead of the upcoming 15-year anniversary of this European science programme on Mars, as the satellite fired its main engine and entered the planet’s orbit on Christmas Day in 2003.

READ MORE: NASA’s InSight Mars Lander Starts Work, Sends Selfie (PHOTOS)

The agency states that the Korolev crater, named after the founding father of the Russian space industry, who developed Sputnik and sent the first man into orbit, is especially well-preserved and has a distinguishing feature. It looks like a giant skating rink throughout the year as it is covered with a 1.8-kilometre-thick water ice cap.

The phenomenon that has turned the crater into an all-year-round “winter wonderland,” as the ESA put it on its website, is called “cold trap”. Korolev’s base is 2 kilometres below the rims, so its deepest parts are like giant refrigerators. They create a shield layer of cold air, which prevents the ice below it from melting.

Netizens, under the spell of Christmas, glanced at the phenomenal crater from this point of view.

Some rushed to call dibs on the “Martian pool”.

​Others suggested humanity should pick Mars to host the Olympic Games.

​Others just shared their delight about a scientific breakthrough that we can all enjoy.

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