While Santa is gearing up forAt the North Pole of Earth, angels are getting in the spirit of holiday . A spacecraft has been seen just a week before Christmas, with a large heart on the “Angelic Figure” and the Martian South Pole.
This week, the high-resolution stereo camera on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express captured “the angular figure’s defining wings, complete with halo,” as well as a large heart next to it. The pair of festive silhouettes appear bright red, as opposed to the light tan color of the Martian sand surrounding them.
According to the Space Agency, the dark color is due to the composition of sand dunes, which are made up of minerals found on Earth, such as pyroxene and olivine.
The South Pole itself is currently experiencing heat, out of frame, to the right of the ethereal view. During the Martian winter, the area would be blanketed into a mile-thick and 250-mile-wide ice cap – but, right now, ice stores are at their lowest annual levels.
Officials said the angel’s hand, which appears to be reaching to the left, is possibly a large high-rise pit – a depression in the surface of the planet that turns into gas in the form of ice in the summer months.
The angel’s head and aura are formed when a celestial object slips into the planet, revealing subsurface layers that provide a glimpse into the long history of Mars. The heart is the result of a row of rocks that form due to erosion.
To the left of the figure in the picturesque landscape are also the devils of Martian dust. Dust devils, common on the red planet, shake the dust off the surface in the form of strong winds.
The South Pole of Mars has been in the headlines in recent months after scientists discovered– and the possibility of many – indicating the potential for survival of microbial life.