NASA watched the ice in this Mars crater dance over a dozen years

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captures a beautiful view of a shifting Martian landscape over time.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

You might think Mars is a pretty static place since it's lacking the oceans and atmospheric drama we have on Earth. But the dry Red Planet is surprisingly dynamic, as a new NASA GIF of a north-pole crater shows.

The animation comes from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRise (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera team at the University of Arizona. 

"These inter-crater ice deposits shrink and expand or change shape or surface texture from year to year," wrote University of Arizona planetary geologist Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for HiRise.

The GIF is compiled from MRO images taken over the span of nearly a dozen years in early 2008, 2010, 2012, 2016, 2018 and late 2019. That spans six Mars Years. Each Mars Year covers 687 Earth days. 

MRO entered Martian orbit in 2006. Its longevity gives scientists the ability to track landscape changes over time. Like with Earth, Mars experiences seasons. Those seasons just last longer. 

The north pole is a particularly fun place to watch. HiRise even caught sight of an avalanche there in 2019. Don't worry, though. Humanity is eyeing some quieter spots on the Red Planet for future colonization.

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