The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a breathtaking new photo of a two-and-a-half-mile-wide ice-covered crater on Mars affectionately nicknamed “Red Velvet.”
Spotted by Digitaltrends, the image was captured by the Trace Gas Orbiter taking photos of the surface of the red planet, examining gases in the atmosphere, and serving as a communication link between landers and other devices on the surface and on planet Earth.
The orbiter is officially a collaboration between ESA and Russian space agency Roscosmos and the photo, originally taken on July 5, 2021, shows a nearly four-kilometer-wide perspective of the surface and the covered crater ice near the north polar region of Vastitas Borealis on Mars.
Like a splash of icing sugar on a rich red velvet cake, this scene from ESA / Roscosmos Exomars Trace Gas Orbiter Captures The contrasting colors of brilliant white water against rusty red martian soil, “the ESA describes .
The ESA says the crater is partially filled with water ice more prevalent on the north-facing slopes since that region receives fewer hours of sunlight throughout the year with the dark sections on the crater edges likely containing volcanic materials like basalt, giving it a sort of scorched looking appearance.
The presence of water on the planet is a big deal for space exploration, since bringing the precious liquid would be too heavy to carry all the way to the planet on a potential future manned mission. The presence of the ice means the liquid could be melted down and used for drinking water or fuel. The problem, according to the ESA, is that most of these deposits that have been found exist near the polar regions of the planet, and most missions want to land near the equatorial regions. Naturally, the next step is to seek out ice below the surface of the planet with missions like the upcoming Marce Ice Caper, or the last option is to take the hydrated minerals from the soil and bake them to release any water they might contain.