Time to Take an Epic Flight Over This Frozen Martian Crater

ESA visualisation over Korolev crater on Mars.  (Gif: ESA/Gizmodo)
ESA visualisation over Korolev crater on Mars. (Gif: ESA/Gizmodo)

Korolev crater on Mars — the largest ice skating rink in the solar system, basically — has never looked more enthralling than it does in this impressive new visualisation.

Located in the northern lowlands of Mars, Korolev crater measures 82 km)across and 1.8 km deep in the centre. The crater, named in honour of Russian rocket scientist Sergey Korolev, appears to be covered in a thick white blanket of snow, but that’s actually ice.

As one of the most eye-grabbing features in our solar system, we are excited to share with you a new video from the European Space Agency showing what it would be like to fly over and around the frozen crater.

The video was built from five distinct image strips captured in 2018 by Mars Express, an ESA satellite that’s been orbiting Mars for the past 17 years. The images were acquired by the orbiter’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), providing a resolution of 21 metres per pixel. These five images were stitched together to create a mosaic and were colour corrected to show the Korolev crater as it would appear to human eyes.

To create the new video, HRSC data was combined with topographical information about the crater and surrounding area, allowing for animated three-dimensional renderings of the feature. Flying high above the Martian surface, viewers approach the crater and then fly around to take in the mesmerising view. Assuming we ever get to Mars, this might actually become an actual tourist destination.

The ice in Korolev crater appears year-round, as the depression creates a natural cold trap. In addition to attracting Martian tourists and the odd hockey team, the ice inside this crater could serve a practical purpose: a plentiful source of water.