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Mars’ icy south pole takes center stage in this amazing photo captured by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter.

Composed of both frozen water and frozen carbon dioxide, it changes shape¬†with Mars’ seasons. The image was captured during the south polar summer, but during winter the ice extends into the smooth regions that can be seen surrounding it.

Towards the top left of the image a portion of the giant Hellas basin can be seen. This feature spans more than 2200 km across and plunges some 8 km below the surface.

Mars_south_pole_and_beyond

 

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