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Dramatic images show martian water cycle

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Dramatic images show martian water cycle
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took this close-up of the red planet Mars when it was just 55 million miles (88 million kilometers) away on December 17, 2007. Mars will be at its brightest on December 24, 2007 as it aligns directly opposite of the sun, and will not be as visible for another nine years. This color image was assembled from a series of exposures taken within 36 hours of the Mars closest approach with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. (UPI Photo/NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team) | License Photo

PARIS, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Images from the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter show changes in the planet's north pole as the martian summer begins, astronomers say.

As the planet's summer solstice approached, all the carbon dioxide ice that covers the area in winter and spring had gone, leaving just a bright cap of water ice, an ESA release said Friday.

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Water ice, which showed up as bright white areas in the newly released images, occasionally emits large bursts of water vapor into the atmosphere, scientists said.

These processes bear witness to a dynamic water cycle on Mars, they said.

The images were captured by the orbiter's High-Resolution Stereo Camera on May 17, 2010, during the summer solstice, the longest day and the beginning of the summer for the planet's northern hemisphere in the martian year, which lasts about 1.88 Earth years.

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