Thanks to ongoing leaps in space exploration, Mars feels so close we can almost taste it. That’s certainly the case with a new image the European Space Agency (ESA) just released of a “Red Velvet” crater on the planet, anyway. Although we’re not sure if the image of Mars’ crater makes us hungrier for a Mark Watney adventure or just a piece of cake.
PetaPixel picked up on the delicious look at Mars. This image, captured by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), offers us a crisp, rich look at the planet. The orbiter—a collaborative project between the (ESA) and the Russian Roscosmos agency—arrived at the planet in 2016. Since then, TGO has sent back reads on trace gases in Mars’ atmosphere. These include methane, which could have a biological source.
In the image, we get a direct, overhead view of the 2.5-mile-wide crater. TGO snapped the photo on July 5, 2021, above the north region of Vastitas Borealis—the largest lowland region of Mars. As the ESA notes, the crater is partially full of water ice. The water ice is particularly apparent on the crater’s north-facing slopes, which receive fewer daytime hours of sunlight on average.
“Like a sprinkle of powdered sugar on a rich red velvet cake, this scene from the…[TGO] captures the contrasting colors of bright white water-ice against the rusty red martian soil,” the ESA writes in its description of the image. Indeed, the planet’s rusty dust contrasts sharply with the white water ice. (There are darker-red velvet cakes that almost match the rust color. We know because we’ve been looking at cake for fifteen minutes now.)
The ESA notes that most of the terrain surrounding Mars’ crater is ice-free. With the erosion and deposition of sediment by the wind shaping the landscape. The streaks at the bottom right of the image have also had their brighter iron oxide dust removed from their surfaces. Leaving them the color of, oddly enough, a tasty tiramisu.