Mars Express image of the icy cap at Mars’ south pole
© ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/Bill Dunfor
Ice on Mars. An ice cap-puccino
No, that's not a new frozen coffee drink; it's the southern polar ice cap on Mars. Mars is the only other planet in the solar system with a visible ice cap, although it differs from Earth’s because it is comprised of both water ice and frozen carbon dioxide. The ice cap looks smooth here but its surface is pockmarked with Swiss-cheese-like depressions caused by the seasonal freezing and melting of the Martian winters and summers.While Mars has been observed by humanity for thousands of years, it was only on 13 August 1642 that Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens observed the ice cap, using the most powerful telescope of the day. Huygens designed the 50x magnification telescope himself and, with his brother, produced the lenses as well.