Mars’ Valles Marineris, which is 20 times wider than the Grand Canyon, seen in stunning new images

The huge canyon of Valles Marineris has been revealed in stunning new images taken by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express.

At 2,485 miles long, over 124 miles wide and over 4 miles deep, the Red Planet’s canyon makes America look downright puny in comparison. Valles Marineris would cover the distance between the northern tip of Norway and the southern tip of Sicily.

The new image depicts two trenches, or sinkholes, that form part of the western part of Valles Marineris. On the left is the 521 mile long Lus Chasma and on the right is the 500 mile long Tithonium Chasma.

The image uses data from the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) aboard Mars Express and is a “true color” image, meaning it shows what the human eye would see s he was looking at this region of Mars.

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This oblique perspective view of Tithonium Chasma (pictured above), part of Mars’ Valles Marineris canyon structure, was generated from the digital terrain model and the nadir and color channels of the high-resolution stereo camera on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express.

The massive canyon of the Red Planet has been revealed in new images released by ESA.  The new image depicts two trenches, or sinkholes, that form part of the western part of Valles Marineris.  On the left is the 521 mile long lus Chasma and on the right is the 500 mile long Tithonium Chasma

The massive canyon of the Red Planet has been revealed in new images released by ESA. The new image depicts two trenches, or sinkholes, that form part of the western part of Valles Marineris. On the left is the 521 mile long lus Chasma and on the right is the 500 mile long Tithonium Chasma

At 2,485 miles long, over 124 miles wide and over 4 miles deep, the Red Planet's Canyon makes the US Grand Canyon seem downright puny in comparison

At 2,485 miles long, over 124 miles wide and over 4 miles deep, the Red Planet’s Canyon makes the US Grand Canyon seem downright puny in comparison

This image of Tithonium Chasma shows parallel lines and piles of debris (top right) that indicate a recent landslide

This image of Tithonium Chasma shows parallel lines and piles of debris (top right) that indicate a recent landslide

The photo above is an illustration of an oblique view of the Valles Marineris giant canyon system on Mars.  The canyons were formed by a combination of geological faulting, landslides, and erosion by wind and ancient water flows.

The photo above is an illustration of an oblique view of the Valles Marineris giant canyon system on Mars. The canyons were formed by a combination of geological faulting, landslides, and erosion by wind and ancient water flows.

In terms of elevation, the tallest mountain in the Alps, Mont Blanc – rising over 15,000 feet above sea level – would be eclipsed if placed inside Tithonium Chasma.

Unlike America’s Grand Canyon, which formed about 5 million years ago when the Colorado River eroded rock, the Red Planet’s huge canyon is thought to have been formed by drifting tectonic plates. .

At the top of Tithonium Chasma, a patch of dark sand – which may have come from a nearby volcanic region – brings color contrast to the image.

Next to the dark sand dunes are two light-toned mounds, one of which is bisected by the top border of the image.

This photo taken by the Mars Express shows a perspective view of a mesa in areas east of the Valles Marineris, the largest canyons in the solar system

This photo taken by the Mars Express shows a perspective view of a mesa in areas east of the Valles Marineris, the largest canyons in the solar system

The Red Planet's massive Valles Marineris - which spans almost a quarter of the planet's circumference, is seen above (middle) in this image from the Granger Collection

The Red Planet’s massive Valles Marineris – which spans almost a quarter of the planet’s circumference, is seen above (middle) in this image from the Granger Collection

Lus and Tithonium Chasmata are seen above.  The area bounded by the bold white box indicates the area imaged by the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera on April 21, 2022 during orbit

Lus and Tithonium Chasmata are seen above. The area bounded by the bold white box indicates the area imaged by the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera on April 21, 2022 during orbit

MARCH: THE BASICS

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun, with a dusty, cold and “nearly dead” desert world with a very thin atmosphere.

Mars is also a dynamic planet with seasons, polar caps, canyons, extinct volcanoes, and evidence that it was even more active in the past.

It is one of the most explored planets in the solar system and the only planet that humans have sent rovers to explore.

A day on Mars lasts just over 24 hours and a year has 687 Earth days.

Facts and figures

Orbital period: 687 days

Area: 144.8 million km²

distance from the sun: 227.9 million km

Gravity: 3.721 m/s²

Ray: 3,389.5 km

Moons: Phobos, Deimos

These mounds are actually gigantic, rising over 9,800 feet in height. For perspective, Mount Hesperus in Alaska, which is the tallest peak in the Apocalypse Mountains, stands at 9,828 feet.

The surfaces of the mounds have been significantly eroded by strong winds from Mars: typical wind speeds on the Red Planet average 200 km/h, with gusts reaching 300 to 375 km/h.

A series of smaller bumps can be seen between the two large mounds.

The Mars Express has already found aquifer sulfate minerals in this region, according to ESA.

The space agency says this suggests the bumps formed when the liquid that once filled the sinkhole evaporated – but that point is debated by scientists.

“At the bottom right of the mound that we see entirely (top right in the second perspective view), we can see parallel lines and piles of debris that indicate a recent landslide,” ESA says in a communicated.

This evidence can also be seen in the topographic image below.

“The landslide was caused by the collapse of the canyon wall on the right and is likely to have occurred relatively recently as it has not been heavily eroded,” says ESA.

“The gnarled floor of Ius Chasma is equally fascinating.

“As the tectonic plates pulled apart, they appear to have caused jagged triangles of rock to form that look like a row of shark teeth.”

Over time, the rock formations collapsed and eroded.

ESA’s Mars Express has been in orbit around the Red Planet since 2003 to conduct a wide range of scientific experiments, including imaging the surface of Mars, mapping its minerals, identifying the composition and of the circulation of its atmosphere and to probe under its crust.

NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover has been exploring the Red Planet for almost a year and a half. The US space agency wants to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has long said that humans must colonize Mars and become a multi-planetary species in order to preserve consciousness and expand it into the cosmos.

Pictured above: A color-coded topographic image showing Ius and Tithonium Chasmata, part of Mars' Valles Marineris canyon structure, which was created from data collected by ESA's Mars Express

Pictured above: A color-coded topographic image showing Ius and Tithonium Chasmata, part of Mars’ Valles Marineris canyon structure, which was created from data collected by ESA’s Mars Express

Pictured above is a computer illustration of the Valles Marineris canyon on the Red Planet, which is the largest canyon in the solar system

Pictured above is a computer illustration of the Valles Marineris canyon on the Red Planet, which is the largest canyon in the solar system

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