Astronomy

How can I find the depth of a portion of the Valles Marineris?

How can I find the depth of a portion of the Valles Marineris?


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How can I find the depth of the low lying part of this image of the western part of Valles Marineris?

I'm interested in the area northeast of Noctis Labyrinthus, southwest of Tithonium Chasma, north of Oudemans, and west of Ius Chasma.

I couldn't find any contour maps of Valles Marineris or Noctis Labyrinthus


You can find MOLA laser altimeter data here:https://pds-geosciences.wustl.edu/missions/mgs/megdr.html. The files are simple rectangular grids of differences between Martian "sea-level" and measure height at 1/128 degree resolution. If you have the latitude and longitude, it is quite straightforward to find the height.

To view these files, you probably need the software found here: https://pds.jpl.nasa.gov/tools/about/pds3-tools/nasa-view.shtml

Looks like the software might be a little out-of-date, but you can give it a try.


Starship Asterisk*

Re: APOD: Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon. (2014 May 11

Post by Nitpicker » Mon May 12, 2014 2:43 am

Re: APOD: Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon. (2014 May 11

Post by Ludo » Mon May 12, 2014 4:12 am

Re: APOD: Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon. (2014 May 11

Post by superwillbee » Mon May 12, 2014 11:04 am

Re: APOD: Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon. (2014 May 11

Post by BDanielMayfield » Mon May 12, 2014 11:28 am

Re: APOD: Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon. (2014 May 11

Post by Chris Peterson » Mon May 12, 2014 2:15 pm

Re: APOD: Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon. (2014 May 11

Post by superwillbee » Mon May 12, 2014 6:17 pm

So let's say it is a tectonic structure of mainly pumice-like-materials, formed a very long time ago, and subsequently eroded bij flowing water and/or wind, CO2 and/or soil. Waters moving west and east due to ebb and flood, and winds tending to go east and west too, around the equator of planets.
As sand dunes look very much like beach structures, i doubt if we can be sure and choose between water and winds that would have formed this Valley in billions of years. And i very much doubt we can be 100% sure about it today, millions of years later. And assuming there was water, i'm pretty sure there must have been an atmosphere too, and winds.

Just to say "No. It's pretty clear".. etc. is no fun at all. Dear Chris Peterson, give doubt a chance, don't be a kill-joy!

Re: APOD: Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon. (2014 May 11

Post by Chris Peterson » Mon May 12, 2014 6:32 pm

So let's say it is a tectonic structure of mainly pumice-like-materials, formed a very long time ago, and subsequently eroded bij flowing water and/or wind, CO2 and/or soil. Waters moving west and east due to ebb and flood, and winds tending to go east and west too, around the equator of planets.
As sand dunes look very much like beach structures, i doubt if we can be sure and choose between water and winds that would have formed this Valley in billions of years. And i very much doubt we can be 100% sure about it today, millions of years later. And assuming there was water, i'm pretty sure there must have been an atmosphere too, and winds.

Just to say "No. It's pretty clear".. etc. is no fun at all. Dear Chris Peterson, give doubt a chance, don't be a kill-joy!

I prefer to base my understanding on evidence. And the evidence in this case doesn't leave much room for doubt about the general processes involved here.

You propose, without justification or explanation, a "tectonic structure of mainly pumice-ike-materials". Yet we have no evidence for the existence of such structures, either on the Earth or Mars. The primary output of volcanic regions (like Tharsis) is magma, leading to basaltic rocks. What explanation would you propose for producing thousands of meters of pumice, a material only observed in shallow beds and as isolated stones and pebbles?

Aeolian bedforms and other structures are certainly present on Mars, and are similar to those on Earth. They are readily distinguished from fluvial structures. And neither explains a structure like Valles Marineris, while a tectonic rift zone explains every observed feature, and is consistent with the volcanics and plate structures seen in the region.


Valles Marineris and Chryse Outflow Channels

A color image of Valles Marineris, the great canyon and the south Chryse basin-Valles Marineris outflow channels of Mars north toward top. The scene shows the entire Valles Marineris canyon system, over 3,000 km long and averaging 8 km deep, extending from Noctis Labyrinthus, the arcuate system of graben to the west, to the chaotic terrain to the east and related outflow canyons that drain toward the Chryse basin. Eos and Capri Chasmata (south to north) are two canyons connected to Valles Marineris. Ganges Chasma lies directly north. The chaos in the southeast part of the image gives rise to several outflow channels, Shalbatana, Simud, Tiu, and Ares Valles (left to right), that drained north into the Chryse basin. The mouth of Ares Valles is the site of the Mars Pathfinder lander.

This image is a composite of Viking medium-resolution images in black and white and low-resolution images in color Mercator projection. The image roughly extends from latitude 20 degrees S. to 20 degrees N. and from longitude 15 degrees to 102.5 degrees.

The connected chasma or valleys of Valles Marineris may have formed from a combination of erosional collapse and structural activity. Layers of material in the eastern canyons might consist of carbonates deposited in ancient lakes, eolian deposits, or volcanic materials. Huge ancient river channels began from Valles Marineris and from adjacent canyons and ran north. Many of the channels flowed north into Chryse Basin.

The south Chryse outflow channels are cut an average of 1 km into the cratered highland terrain. This terrain is about 9 km above datum near Valles Marineris and steadily decreases in elevation to 1 km below datum in the Chryse basin. Shalbatana is relatively narrow (10 km wide) but can reach 3 km in depth. The channel begins at a 2- to 3-km-deep circular depression within a large impact crater, whose floor is partly covered by chaotic material, and ends in Simud Valles. Tiu and Simud Valles consist of a complex of connected channel floors and chaotic terrain and extend as far south as and connect to eastern Valles Marineris. Ares Vallis originates from discontinuous patches of chaotic terrain within large craters. In the Chryse basin the Ares channel forks one branch continues northwest into central Chryse Planitia and the other extends north into eastern Chryse Planitia.


A Day at Valles Marineris: One of the Largest Canyons in the Solar System

If you’ve been to the Grand Canyon, then you probably know what it’s like to feel rather fleeting and smallish. When you stand next to this vast trench, you see an immense structure that’s been some 70 million years in the making (which is a bit longer than the 7 decades most humans are allotted). The canyon snakes across Northern Arizona, stretching more than 270 miles (434km). At points, the chasm is more than a mile deep (1.5km). However, impressive as the Grand Canyon is, it doesn’t come close to measuring up to Mars’ largest canyon, Valles Marineris.

Just how big is Valles Marineris? This beast is nearly 2,500 miles long and 4 miles deep (4,000 km long and 7 km deep). If Valles Marineris were laid on the surface of the Earth, it would extend all the way across the United States. In short, it makes the *Grand* Canyon look like the *Bland* Canyon.

Wow. Terrible pun. Moving on…

Today, I would like to talk about what it would be like to spend a day at Valles Marineris. Since the canyon covers nearly 20% the circumference of Mars, I’m afraid that you wouldn’t be able to see all of it in a day. In fact, it would take you more than 41 hours to drive the length of the canyon (that’s assuming that you travel at a constant speed of 60mph [96km], and that you never stop for bathroom breaks or sammiches).

So, where should you spend your 24 hours and what should you do? Well, if you started in the West, you would spend most of the day being hopelessly lost. This portion of the canyon is affectionately called “Noctis Labyrinthus” or “the Labyrinth of Night.” Does the name sound a little terrifying? Because it probably should.

Noctis Labyrinthus is a maze-like system of valleys and canyons. Here, the land is littered with the debris of extensive avalanches and rockslides. You could spend your day wandering over the rocks and picking your way through the massive stream of scattered boulders. However, scientists believe that the twisting valley was partially carved by immense winds, which eroded the dusty terrain and carved the canyon’s jutting features (so consider wearing a super thick windbreaker). Also, since the path is so twisted and strewn with debris, it is entirely possible that finding your way back to your vessel could be problematic. Fortunately, there is an upside. This portion of the Red Planet is a bit warmer than other regions it comes in at a comfortable –100°F (–70°C). True, it may sound cold, but it is a good 50° warmer than the rest of the planet (small victories, people, small victories).

If getting hopelessly lost in the Labyrinth of Night doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then you might consider visiting Melas Chasma, the deepest part of Valles Marineris. Melas lies to the East of the canyon system, and it measures a staggering 6.8 miles (11km) deep. For obvious reasons, this area might be one of the most interesting and hospitable places to visit. First, there is the extraordinary depth of the cliffs. Because of canyon’s extreme depth, this location might be the best place to put a manned outpost, as it would have the highest natural air pressure on the planet. Moreover, the layering of material observed by the Mars Global Surveyor camera suggests that Melas may be the site of an ancient subaqueous setting. This means that Melas would be a very attractive spot to search for evidence of ancient habitable environments on Mars. So you could spend your day looking for ancient riverbeds or evidence of sedimentary rocks. Who knows, as you spend your day roaming about Melas, you might even find a Martian fossil!

If neither of these locations sound like appealing sites for a daytrip, then you could do away with Valles Marineris entirely and take a jaunt to another one of Mars’ most impressive features: Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system. However, this feature is so impressive, it really deserves its own post.
So be sure to stay tuned…


Valles Marineris, the Deepest Chasm in the Solar System

The photographs coming back from the Martian orbiters sure help you appreciate the very different terrain on the Red Planet. And here’s an example of one of the extreme places on Mars: the Valles Marineris the deepest, longest valley in the Solar System. The image was captured by ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft and reveals a region of the valley called Candor Chasma.

Take a look at a photograph of Mars, and it’s easy to spot Valles Marineris. It’s a 3,000 km-long (1,800 mile) gash carved in the side of the Red Planet. Planetary geologists think it formed around the same time as the nearby Tharsis Bulge – the volcanic region that houses Olympus Mons, the largest mountain in the Solar System.

It’s likely a rift valley, similar to the East African Rift Valley here on Earth. As the giant volcanoes formed, the Valles Marineris opened up as a crack in the ground. Flowing carbon dioxide could have weathered it further, eroding it and forcing the walls to cave in.

As I mentioned above, this is just a tiny portion of the whole rift. The canyon walls tower 8,500 metres (28,000 feet) above the floor below.

And if there was one place in the whole Solar System that I could travel to and see with my own eyes, it would be right here. So come on NASA, hurry up with that mission to Mars already.


10.4 The Geology of Mars

Mars is more interesting to most people than Venus because it is more hospitable. Even from the distance of Earth, we can see surface features on Mars and follow the seasonal changes in its polar caps (Figure 10.13). Although the surface today is dry and cold, evidence collected by spacecraft suggests that Mars once had blue skies and lakes of liquid water. Even today, it is the sort of place we can imagine astronauts visiting and perhaps even setting up permanent bases.

Spacecraft Exploration of Mars

Mars has been intensively investigated by spacecraft. More than 50 spacecraft have been launched toward Mars, but only about half were fully successful. The first visitor was the US Mariner 4, which flew past Mars in 1965 and transmitted 22 photos to Earth. These pictures showed an apparently bleak planet with abundant impact craters. In those days, craters were unexpected some people who were romantically inclined still hoped to see canals or something like them. In any case, newspaper headlines sadly announced that Mars was a “dead planet.”

In 1971, NASA’s Mariner 9 became the first spacecraft to orbit another planet, mapping the entire surface of Mars at a resolution of about 1 kilometer and discovering a great variety of geological features, including volcanoes, huge canyons, intricate layers on the polar caps, and channels that appeared to have been cut by running water. Geologically, Mars didn’t look so dead after all.

The twin Viking spacecraft of the 1970s were among the most ambitious and successful of all planetary missions. Two orbiters surveyed the planet and served to relay communications for two landers on the surface. After an exciting and sometimes frustrating search for a safe landing spot, the Viking 1 lander touched down on the surface of Chryse Planitia (the Plains of Gold) on July 20, 1976, exactly 7 years after Neil Armstrong’s historic first step on the Moon. Two months later, Viking 2 landed with equal success in another plain farther north, called Utopia. The landers photographed the surface with high resolution and carried out complex experiments searching for evidence of life, while the orbiters provided a global perspective on Mars geology.

Mars languished unvisited for two decades after Viking. Two more spacecraft were launched toward Mars, by NASA and the Russian Space Agency, but both failed before reaching the planet.

The situation changed in the 1990s as NASA began a new exploration program using spacecraft that were smaller and less expensive than Viking. The first of the new missions, appropriately called Pathfinder, landed the first wheeled, solar-powered rover on the martian surface on July 4, 1997 (Figure 10.14). An orbiter called Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) arrived a few months later and began high-resolution photography of the entire surface over more than one martian year. The most dramatic discovery by this spacecraft, which continued to operate until 2006, was evidence of gullies apparently cut by surface water, as we will discuss later. These missions were followed in 2003 by the NASA Mars Odyssey orbiter, and the ESA Mars Express orbiter, both carrying high-resolution cameras. A gamma-ray spectrometer on Odyssey discovered a large amount of subsurface hydrogen (probably in the form of frozen water). Subsequent orbiters included the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to evaluate future landing sites, MAVEN to study the upper atmosphere, and India’s Mangalayaan, also focused on study of Mars’ thin layers of air. Several of these orbiters are also equipped to communicate with landers and rovers on the surface and serve as data relays to Earth.

In 2003, NASA began a series of highly successful Mars landers. Twin Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), named Spirit and Opportunity, have been successful far beyond their planned lifetimes. The design goal for the rovers was 600 meters of travel in fact, they have traveled jointly more than 50 kilometers. After scouting around its rim, Opportunity drove down the steep walls into an impact crater called Victoria, then succeeded with some difficulty in climbing back out to resume its route (Figure 10.15). Dust covering the rovers’ solar cells caused a drop in power, but when a seasonal dust storm blew away the dust, the rovers resumed full operation. In order to survive winter, the rovers were positioned on slopes to maximize solar heating and power generation. In 2006, Spirit lost power on one of its wheels, and subsequently became stuck in the sand, where it continued operation as a fixed ground station. Meanwhile, in 2008, Phoenix (a spacecraft “reborn” of spare parts from a previous Mars mission that had failed) landed near the edge of the north polar cap, at latitude 68°, and directly measured water ice in the soil.

In 2011, NASA launched its largest (and most expensive) Mars mission since Viking (see Figure 10.1). The 1-ton rover Curiosity, the size of a subcompact car, has plutonium-powered electrical generators, so that it is not dependent on sunlight for power. Curiosity made a pinpoint landing on the floor of Gale crater, a site selected for its complex geology and evidence that it had been submerged by water in the past. Previously, Mars landers had been sent to flat terrains with few hazards, as required by their lower targeting accuracy. The scientific goals of Curiosity include investigations of climate and geology, and assessment of the habitability of past and present Mars environments. In 2018, NASA’s InSight Lander touched down on Mars, carrying a suite of scientific instruments. These include a package (nicknamed “the mole”) that will dig into the surface of Mars 1 mm at a time, hoping to reach a depth of 5 meters with heat sensors. Neither of these missions carries a specific life detection instrument, however. So far, scientists have not been able to devise a simple instrument that could distinguish living from nonliving materials on Mars.

Link to Learning

The Curiosity rover required a remarkably complex landing sequence and NASA made a video about it called “7 Minutes of Terror” that went viral on the Internet.

A dramatic video summary of the first two years of Curiosity’s exploration of the martian surface can be viewed as well.

Martian Samples

Much of what we know of the Moon, including the circumstances of its origin, comes from studies of lunar samples, but spacecraft have not yet returned martian samples to Earth for laboratory analysis. It is with great interest, therefore, that scientists have discovered that samples of martian material are nevertheless already here on Earth, available for study. These are all members of a rare class of meteorites (Figure 10.16)—rocks that have fallen from space.

How would rocks have escaped from Mars? Many impacts have occurred on the red planet, as shown by its heavily cratered surface. Fragments blasted from large impacts can escape from Mars, whose surface gravity is only 38% of Earth’s. A long time later (typically a few million years), a very small fraction of these fragments collide with Earth and survive their passage through our atmosphere, just like other meteorites. (We’ll discuss meteorites in more detail in the chapter on Cosmic Samples and the Origin of the Solar System.) By the way, rocks from the Moon have also reached our planet as meteorites, although we were able to demonstrate their lunar origin only by comparison with samples returned by the Apollo missions

Most of the martian meteorites are volcanic basalts most of them are also relatively young—about 1.3 billion years old. We know from details of their composition that they are not from Earth or the Moon. Besides, there was no volcanic activity on the Moon to form them as recently as 1.3 billon years ago. It would be very difficult for ejecta from impacts on Venus to escape through its thick atmosphere. By the process of elimination, the only reasonable origin seems to be Mars, where the Tharsis volcanoes were active at that time.

The martian origin of these meteorites was confirmed by the analysis of tiny gas bubbles trapped inside several of them. These bubbles match the atmospheric properties of Mars as first measured directly by Viking. It appears that some atmospheric gas was trapped in the rock by the shock of the impact that ejected it from Mars and started it on its way toward Earth.

One of the most exciting results from analysis of these martian samples has been the discovery of both water and organic (carbon-based) compounds in them, which suggests that Mars may once have had oceans and perhaps even life on its surface. As we have already hinted, there is other evidence for the presence of flowing water on Mars in the remote past, and even extending to the present.

In this and the following sections, we will summarize the picture of Mars as revealed by all these exploratory missions and by about 40 samples from Mars.

Global Properties of Mars

Mars has a diameter of 6790 kilometers, just over half the diameter of Earth, giving it a total surface area very nearly equal to the continental (land) area of our planet. Its overall density of 3.9 g/cm 3 suggests a composition consisting primarily of silicates but with a small metal core. The planet has no global magnetic field, although there are areas of strong surface magnetization that indicate that there was a global field billions of years ago. Apparently, the red planet has no liquid material in its core today that would conduct electricity.

Thanks to the Mars Global Surveyor, we have mapped the entire planet, as shown in Figure 10.17. A laser altimeter on board made millions of separate measurements of the surface topography to a precision of a few meters—good enough to show even the annual deposition and evaporation of the polar caps. Like Earth, the Moon, and Venus, the surface of Mars has continental or highland areas as well as widespread volcanic plains. The total range in elevation from the top of the highest mountain ( Olympus Mons ) to the bottom of the deepest basin (Hellas) is 31 kilometers.

Approximately half the planet consists of heavily cratered highland terrain, found primarily in the southern hemisphere. The other half, which is mostly in the north, contains younger, lightly cratered volcanic plains at an average elevation about 5 kilometers lower than the highlands. Remember that we saw a similar pattern on Earth, the Moon, and Venus. A geological division into older highlands and younger lowland plains seems to be characteristic of all the terrestrial planets except Mercury.

Lying across the north-south division of Mars is an uplifted continent the size of North America. This is the 10-kilometer-high Tharsis bulge, a volcanic region crowned by four great volcanoes that rise still higher into the martian sky.

Volcanoes on Mars

The lowland plains of Mars look very much like the lunar maria, and they have about the same density of impact craters. Like the lunar maria, they probably formed between 3 and 4 billion years ago. Apparently, Mars experienced extensive volcanic activity at about the same time the Moon did, producing similar basaltic lavas.

The largest volcanic mountains of Mars are found in the Tharsis area (you can see them in Figure 10.17), although smaller volcanoes dot much of the surface. The most dramatic volcano on Mars is Olympus Mons (Mount Olympus), with a diameter larger than 500 kilometers and a summit that towers more than 20 kilometers above the surrounding plains—three times higher than the tallest mountain on Earth (Figure 10.18). The volume of this immense volcano is nearly 100 times greater than that of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Placed on Earth’s surface, Olympus would more than cover the entire state of Missouri.

Images taken from orbit allow scientists to search for impact craters on the slopes of these volcanoes in order to estimate their age. Many of the volcanoes show a fair number of such craters, suggesting that they ceased activity a billion years or more ago. However, Olympus Mons has very, very few impact craters. Its present surface cannot be more than about 100 million years old it may even be much younger. Some of the fresh-looking lava flows might have been formed a hundred years ago, or a thousand, or a million, but geologically speaking, they are quite young. This leads geologists to the conclusion that Olympus Mons possibly remains intermittently active today—something future Mars land developers may want to keep in mind.

Martian Cracks and Canyons

The Tharsis bulge has many interesting geological features in addition to its huge volcanoes. In this part of the planet, the surface itself has bulged upward, forced by great pressures from below, resulting in extensive tectonic cracking of the crust. Among the most spectacular tectonic features on Mars are the canyons called the Valles Marineris (or Mariner Valleys, named after Mariner 9, which first revealed them to us), which are shown in Figure 10.19. They extend for about 5000 kilometers (nearly a quarter of the way around Mars) along the slopes of the Tharsis bulge. If it were on Earth, this canyon system would stretch all the way from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. The main canyon is about 7 kilometers deep and up to 100 kilometers wide, large enough for the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River to fit comfortably into one of its side canyons.

Link to Learning

An excellent 4-minute video tour of Valles Marineris, narrated by planetary scientist Phil Christensen, is available for viewing.

The term “canyon” is somewhat misleading here because the Valles Marineris canyons have no outlets and were not cut by running water. They are basically tectonic cracks, produced by the same crustal tensions that caused the Tharsis uplift. However, water has played a later role in shaping the canyons, primarily by seeping from deep springs and undercutting the cliffs. This undercutting led to landslides that gradually widened the original cracks into the great valleys we see today (Figure 10.20). Today, the primary form of erosion in the canyons is probably wind.

While the Tharsis bulge and Valles Marineris are impressive, in general, we see fewer tectonic structures on Mars than on Venus. In part, this may reflect a lower general level of geological activity, as would be expected for a smaller planet. But it is also possible that evidence of widespread faulting has been buried by wind-deposited sediment over much of Mars. Like Earth, Mars may have hidden part of its geological history under a cloak of soil.

The View on the Martian Surface

The first spacecraft to land successfully on Mars were Vikings 1 and 2 and Mars Pathfinder. All sent back photos that showed a desolate but strangely beautiful landscape, including numerous angular rocks interspersed with dune like deposits of fine-grained, reddish soil (Figure 10.21).

All three of these landers were targeted to relatively flat, lowland terrain. Instruments on the landers found that the soil consisted of clays and iron oxides, as had long been expected from the red color of the planet. All the rocks measured appeared to be of volcanic origin and roughly the same composition. Later landers were targeted to touch down in areas that apparently were flooded sometime in the past, where sedimentary rock layers, formed in the presence of water, are common. (Although we should note that nearly all the planet is blanketed in at least a thin layer of wind-blown dust).

The Viking landers included weather stations that operated for several years, providing a perspective on martian weather. The temperatures they measured varied greatly with the seasons, due to the absence of moderating oceans and clouds. Typically, the summer maximum at Viking 1 was 240 K (–33 °C), dropping to 190 K (–83 °C) at the same location just before dawn. The lowest air temperatures, measured farther north by Viking 2, were about 173 K (–100 °C). During the winter, Viking 2 also photographed water frost deposits on the ground (Figure 10.22). We make a point of saying “water frost” here because at some locations on Mars, it gets cold enough for carbon dioxide (dry ice) to freeze out of the atmosphere as well.

Most of the winds measured on Mars are only a few kilometers per hour. However, Mars is capable of great windstorms that can shroud the entire planet with windblown dust. Such high winds can strip the surface of some of its loose, fine dust, leaving the rock exposed. The later rovers found that each sunny afternoon the atmosphere became turbulent as heat rose off the surface. This turbulence generated dust devils, which play an important role in lifting the fine dust into the atmosphere. As the dust devils strip off the top layer of light dust and expose darker material underneath, they can produce fantastic patterns on the ground (Figure 10.23).

Wind on Mars plays an important role in redistributing surface material. Figure 10.23 shows a beautiful area of dark sand dunes on top of lighter material. Much of the material stripped out of the martian canyons has been dumped in extensive dune fields like this, mostly at high latitudes.


The Solar System's grandest canyon

Valles Marineris.

Earth's Grand Canyon inspires awe for anyone who casts eyes upon the vast river-cut valley, but it would seem nothing more than a scratch next to the cavernous scar of Valles Marineris that marks the face of Mars.

Stretching over 4000 km long and 200 km wide, and with a dizzying depth of 10 km, it is some ten times longer and five times deeper than Earth's Grand Canyon, a size that earns it the status of the largest canyon in the Solar System.

Seen here in new light and online for the first time, this bird's-eye view of Valles Marineris was created from data captured during 20 individual orbits of ESA's Mars Express. It is presented in near-true colour and with four times vertical exaggeration.

A wide variety of geological features can be seen, reflecting the complex geological history of the region.

The canyon's formation is likely intimately linked with the formation of the neighbouring Tharsis bulge, which is out of shot and to the left of this image and home to the largest volcano in the Solar System, Olympus Mons.

The volcanic activity is revealed by the nature of the rocks in the walls of the canyon and the surrounding plains, which were built by successive lava flows.

As the Tharsis bulge swelled with magma during the planet's first billion years, the surrounding crust was stretched, ripping apart and eventually collapsing into the gigantic troughs of Valles Marineris.

Intricate fault patterns have also developed due to the imposing extensional forces the most recent are particularly evident in the middle portion of the image and along the lower boundary of the frame.

Landslides have also played a role in shaping the scene, especially in the northern-most troughs, where material has recently slumped down the steep walls. Mass wasting has also created delicate erosion of the highest part of the walls.

Strong water flows may have reshaped Valles Marineris after it was formed, deepening the canyon. Mineralogical information collected by orbiting spacecraft, including Mars Express, shows that the terrain here was altered by water hundreds of millions of years ago.


Vast volumes of water once flooded through this deep chasm on Mars that connects the ‘Grand Canyon’ of the Solar System – Valles Marineris – to the planet’s northern lowlands. The image, taken by ESA’s Mars Express on 16 July, &hellip Continue reading &rarr

THEMIS Image of the Day, July 27, 2015. The THEMIS VIS camera contains 5 filters. The data from different filters can be combined in multiple ways to create a false color image. These false color images may reveal subtle variations &hellip Continue reading &rarr


One day, humans will walk on Mars.

NASA currently is planning a return to the Moon and has long-range plans for trips to the Red Planet. Such a mission is not likely to "lift off" for at least a decade. From Elon Musk's Mars ideas to NASA's long-term strategy for exploring the planet to China's interest in that distant world, it's pretty clear that people will be living and working on Mars before the middle of the century. The first generation of Marsnauts could well be in high school or college, or even beginning their careers in space-related industries.


Certain stars are gravitationally bound to one another. Though to the naked eye, these celestial objects may seem like one star they are usually two or more stars there, which are orbiting around one another.

A famous example of this is the asterism known as Orion’s Belt. There are three giant stars here: Mintaka, Alnitak, and Alnilam.

Though Alnilam is a single star, Mintaka is actually a several star system while Alnitak is a triple star system.

One of the closest stellar systems to us is the Alpha Centauri system. It is comprised out of three stars, but the best part is, a planet is also present there. This makes it the closest stellar system to us to have a planet.


Watch the video: What did NASAs HiRise camera discover over Mars giant scar? Valles Marineris 4K (January 2023).