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See the swirling spirals of Mars' crazy north pole

A new color mosaic highlights the strange swirling patterns found on Mars' icy north pole.

Get a good look at Mars' north pole.

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

Sometimes old photos can provide new information. That's the case with a series of 32 images taken between 2004 and 2010 by the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. The ESA released new mosaic images generated from those Mars Express pictures on Thursday, and they show a color view of Mars' strange north pole ice cap, a place full of exotic swirling formations.

The darker areas of the permanent ice cap are troughs. "Strong winds are thought to have played an important role in shaping the ice cap over time, blowing from the elevated center towards its lower edges and twisted by the same Coriolis force that causes hurricanes to spiral on Earth," the ESA notes.

The ESA offers two views, one from a sideways perspective and one looking down on the massive ice cap, which covers around 386,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers).

Data from Mars Express and NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate the ice cap consists of ice, sand and dust layers reaching down to a depth of around 1.2 miles (2 kilometers).

Mars Express launched in 2003 and has also provided scenic views of the Red Planet's south pole. The spacecraft is still active.

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