Korolev Crater – Giant bowl of ice on Mars

The ice giant is named after the Ukrainian engineer Sergey Korolev. The crater has huge dimensions, and its bottom almost completely encircles the glacier. Below we will tell you more about it, and also find out how it would look in our country and how much space it would take.

Korolev Crater on Mars. Source: Wikipedia

Korolev at the north pole of Mars

The Great Northern Plain of Mars is a colossal lowland that may have once been the bottom of the ocean. It covers a significant part of the Northern Hemisphere of the planet, and the northern ice cap of our cold neighbor is located there. There are not many interesting objects here, and the Korolev crater is one of them.

The crater is named in honor of the Ukrainian Sergey Pavlovich Korolev, who was the chief designer of Soviet rockets. He developed the carriers that put the first satellite, the first living being and the first person into orbit. The crater got its name in 1973, 7 years after the death of the engineer.

It should be said that the Martian Korolev should not be confused with the shock formation of the same name on the Moon. The crater on our natural moon is much larger and is located on its invisible side from Earth. Its diameter is 437 km, but at the same time its bowl is greatly destroyed.

The Martian crater has a diameter of 81.4 km. It is almost not destroyed by atmospheric erosion. Its outer wall rises two kilometers above the surrounding plains. The bottom of the crater lies on the same level with them. Therefore, this formation is a giant, almost perfect bowl.

Giant Bowl of Ice

Korolev crater is not empty. Due to its shape and location, this crater serves as a “cold trap”.  Its bottom is rarely illuminated by the Sun, because the average temperature there is much lower than the surrounding area. Therefore, rare water vapor on Mars crystallizes in it for millions of years.

As a result of this process, Korolev was filled with water ice. It forms a round glacier — something like a frozen lake. Its diameter is 60 km. The thickness of the ice reaches 1800 m. The total volume of water in the huge bowl reaches 2200 km³. This is about the same as in the Great Bear Lake in Canada. Therefore, the crater is a storage site for a significant part of Martian water.

Korolev and Ukraine

The scale of the Korolev crater can be imagined if you overlay it on a map of Ukraine. Then it will become clear that 80 km is not too little. If it were located within our state, then it would easily fit the longest city — Kryvyi Rih.

And that’s not all: if Korolev was in Ukraine, it would become its largest mountain system. Because the crest of its wall is the same height as Hoverla. And the length of the “side” of the giant bowl with ice reaches 255 km, which is only 25 km less than the length of the Carpathians on the territory of our state. 

Besides, if Korolev was on the Earth, the ice would melt and form a lake. It would become the largest reservoir on the territory of Ukraine. After all, there would be 7.5 times more water than in the Sea of Azov.