A Christmas ‘angel’ has been spotted on Mars by the European Space Agency (ESA), halo and all.
The pictures of the angel were taken the ESA’s with the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera, just in time for Christmas. The angel-like shape was spotted on the Red Planet’s surface with a crater above the ‘head’ giving it the appearance of a halo.
Boasting deep shades of red, the ESA explained that the colouring is ‘a result of the composition of the constituent dune fields’. The fields are largely made up of dark, rock-forming minerals known as pyroxene and olivine, which are also found on Earth.
In addition to the angel, ESA have described another ‘festive feature’ on the planet that’s in a heart shape, which is partly connected to the angel.
Explaining what the two things are made up of, the ESA said:
The angel’s hand, seen as if reaching to the left, is thought to be a large sublimation pit, a type of feature that forms as ice turns to gas and leaves empty pockets and depressions in the planetary surface (a process that often occurs as the seasons change).
[…] The ‘head’ [of the angel] and halo are formed of an impact crater, created as a body from space flew inwards to collide with Mars’ crust. As this impactor hit it dug down into the surface, revealing the numerous layered deposits that make up the southern polar region.
It continued: ‘Finally comes the heart, which is underscored by a steep escarpment – a line of cliffs or steep slopes created by erosive processes – and separated from the dark expanse of dunes below. The origin of this dark material, which is found all over Mars, remains unclear, but scientists posit that it once existed deeper below the surface in layers of material formed by ancient volcanic activity.’
This isn’t the only recent, interesting discovery the ESA’s Mars Express has made; in September, multiple ‘water bodies’ were found on the planet under Mars’ South Pole. The water bodies fond are hoped to hold evidence of life on Mars.
Following the discovery, a team from Washington University in St. Louis have now developed a system that will turn Mars’ water into oxygen and fuel in the hopes of sending astronauts there one day.
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The European Space Agency
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