The current Mars mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) was able to photograph the north pole of the Red Planet. The incredible photo features an ice cap as well as traces of storms on Mars.

The ESA was able to obtain the stunning photo through its Mars Express mission. This mission, which is composed of an orbiter and a lander, has been observing Mars' various features since 2003.

Ice Caps On Mars' North Pole

Mars' North Pole
This image shows part of the ice cap sitting at Mars’ north pole, complete with bright swathes of ice, dark troughs and depressions, and signs of strong winds and stormy activity. ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

In the latest photos captured by the mission, the ESA was able to provide a stunning glimpse of Mars' northern region. According to the ESA, one of the photos features a portion of a massive ice cap sitting at the Red Planet's north pole. The dark streaks that can be spotted in the photo are depressions and indentations on the surface of the ice caps. The ESA explained these features were made by the harsh winds and storm activities on Mars.

"The landscape here is a rippled mix of colour," the ESA said in a statement. "Dark red and ochre-hued troughs appear to cut through the icy white of the polar cap; these form part of a wider system of depressions that spiral outwards from the very centre of the pole."

Storms and Changing Seasons On Mars

Mars river
ESA

According to the ESA, Mars' north pole is covered in thick layers of water ice even during the summer seasons. But, during winter, the extremely cold temperatures causes carbon dioxide to precipitate and accumulate as ice. This forms an additional layer of ice on top of the existing ice cap. This natural phenomenon also creates carbon dioxide clouds over the region, which makes it hard to view from orbit.

In addition to the polar ice cap, ESA's photo also features traces of storms in the region. As noted by the agency, the dark features on the left side of the photo are cloud streams that were formed by storms. "Visible to the left of the frame are a few extended streams of clouds, aligned perpendicularly to a couple of the troughs," ESA explained. "These are thought to be caused by small local storms that kick up dust into the Martian atmosphere."