RESEARCH

Marvelling at a Martian Spiral

Why is there a spiral around the North Pole of Mars? Each winter this pole develops a new outer layer about one meter thick composed of carbon dioxide frozen out of the thin Martian atmosphere. This fresh layer is deposited on a water-ice layer that exists year round. Strong winds blow down from above the cap's center and swirl due to the spin of the red planet - contributing to Planum Boreum's spiral structure.

Image by ESA/DLR/FU Berlin; NASA MGS MOLA Science Team
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