Watch a flight over the stunning icy Korolev Crater on Mars

If you’ve ever wanted to take a trip to Mars to view the local sights, you’ll have to wait a while until the transport and infrastructure is ready for humans to visit another planet. But for now, the European Space Agency (ESA) is offering the next best thing: A video fly-over of one of Mars’ most famous landmarks, the enormous and icy Korolev Crater.

The Korolev crater is 50 miles across and is located in the northern part of Mars. At the northern pole is an ice cap made of water ice, and around this cap is an area of dunes in which the crater is located.

The crater is unusual as it is not filled with snow but rather water ice, which more than one mile thick even in the summer months. The ice is preserved due to the fact that the floor of the crater is more than a mile deep below the surface of the planet, forming a natural cold trap in which cold air sinks to the bottom of the crater and blankets the ice, keeping it cold and in its frozen form.

Perspective view of Korolev crater ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

The video shows a zooming in from the planet’s surface, toward its northern hemisphere, before then focusing in on the crater. It then switches to a fly-over style view of the crater which lets you appreciate the eery isolation of the dramatic landscape. It was created from real images of the planet’s surface captured by a special high-resolution camera about the European Space Agency’s orbiting spacecraft, Mars Express.

“This movie was created using an image mosaic made from single orbit observations from the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on Mars Express, which was first published in December 2018,” ESA explained on its website. “The mosaic combines data from the HRSC nadir and color channels; the nadir channel is aligned perpendicular to the surface of Mars, as if looking straight down at the surface. The mosaic image was then combined with topography information from the stereo channels of HRSC to generate a three-dimensional landscape, which was then recorded from different perspectives, as with a movie camera, to render the flight shown in the video.”

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