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

The massive Valles Marineris valley has been revealed in stunning new images captured by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express.

The valley of the Red Planet is 2,485 miles long, more than 124 miles wide and more than 4 miles deep, making America look pretty faint by comparison. Vallis Marineris stretches from the northern tip of Norway to the southern tip of Sicily.

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

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 if it looked at this region of Mars.

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This skewed perspective view of Tithonium Chasma (pictured above), which forms part of the Valles Marineris valley structure of Mars, was created from the digital terrain model, analog and color channels of the high-resolution stereo camera on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express.

The huge valley of the red planet has been revealed in new images released by the European Space Agency.  The new image depicts two trenches, or chasma, that form part of the western part of Valles Marineris.  On the left is Lus Chasma which is 521 miles long and on the right is the Tithonium Chasma which is 500 miles long

The huge valley of the red planet has been revealed in new images released by the European Space Agency. The new image depicts two trenches, or chasma, that form part of the western part of Valles Marineris. On the left is Lus Chasma which is 521 miles long and on the right is the Tithonium Chasma which is 500 miles long

The Red Planet's canyon is 2,485 miles long, more than 124 miles wide, and more than 4 miles deep, making America's Grand Canyon look lousy by comparison.

The Red Planet’s canyon is 2,485 miles long, more than 124 miles wide, and more than 4 miles deep, making America’s Grand Canyon look lousy by comparison.

This image of Tethonium Chasma shows parallel lines and debris piles (top right) indicating a recent landslide.

This image of Tethonium Chasma shows parallel lines and debris piles (top right) indicating a recent landslide.

Above is an illustration of a tilted view of the giant Valles Marineris Valley system on Mars.  The canyons were formed by a combination of geological faults, landslides, wind erosion, and ancient water flows

Above is an illustration of a tilted view of the giant Valles Marineris Valley system on Mars. The canyons were formed by a combination of geological faults, landslides, wind erosion, and ancient water flows

When viewed in terms of altitude, the Alps’ highest mountain, Mont Blanc – rising more than 15,000 feet above sea level – would be a dwarf if placed within the Tithonium Chasma.

Unlike the American Grand Canyon, which formed about 5 million years ago when the Colorado River eroded, the huge canyon of the Red Planet is thought to have formed due to the erosion of tectonic plates.

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

Next to the dark sand dunes are two light-colored hills, one of which is divided in half by the upper picture frame.

This image taken by Mars Express shows a perspective view of Mesa in the regions east of Valles Marineris, the largest canyons in the Solar System.

This image taken by Mars Express shows a perspective view of Mesa in the regions east of Valles Marineris, the largest canyons in the Solar System.

The Red Planet's massive Valles Marineris—which spans roughly a quarter of the planet's circumference—is visible above (center) in this image from the Granger Group.

The Red Planet’s massive Valles Marineris—which spans roughly a quarter of the planet’s circumference—is visible above (center) in this image from the Granger Group.

Lus and Tithonium Chasmata are seen above.  The area outlined in the dark 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 outlined in the dark white box indicates the area imaged by the Mars Express High Resolution stereo camera on April 21, 2022 during orbit.

Mars: the basics

Mars is the fourth planet away from the sun, with a cold, dusty desert world that is almost dead with a very thin atmosphere.

Mars is also a dynamic planet with seasons, polar ice caps, canyons, and extinct volcanoes, evidence that it was 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 their rovers to explore.

One day on Mars takes just over 24 hours and a year is 687 Earth days.

facts and figures

orbital: 687 days

surface area: 144.8 million square kilometers

distance from the sun: 227.9 million km

gravity: 3.721 m/s²

radius: 3389.5 km

moons: Phobos, Deimos

These hills are actually gigantic, with an elevation of over 9,800 feet. For perspective, Mount Hesperus in Alaska, the highest peak in the Revelation Mountains, rises 9,828 feet.

The surfaces of the hills have been greatly eroded by strong Martian winds: a typical average wind speed on the Red Planet is 125 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 300-375 miles per hour.

A series of small outcrops can be seen between the large hills.

Mars Express previously found water-bearing sulfate minerals in this area, according to the European Space Agency.

The space agency says this suggests that the bulges formed when the fluid that once filled the rift evaporated — but this point has been debated by scientists.

“To the full bottom right of the hill we see (upper right in second perspective view), we can see parallel lines and debris piles that indicate a recent landslide,” the European Space Agency says in a statement.

This clue can also be seen in the topography image below.

The ESA explains that “the landslide was caused by the collapse of the valley wall on the right, and it is likely that it occurred relatively recently because it was not severely eroded.”

“The evil ground of Ius Chasma is equally remarkable.

“When the tectonic plates separated, they seem to have caused the formation of jagged triangles of rock that look like a row of shark teeth.”

Over time, the rock formations collapsed and eroded.

The European Space Agency’s Mars Express rover has orbited the Red Planet since 2003 to conduct a wide range of scientific experiments, including imaging the surface of Mars, mapping its minerals, determining its atmosphere composition and circulation, and exploration under its crust.

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

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has long said that humans must colonize Mars and become a multi-planetary species in order to maintain and expand consciousness in the universe.

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

In the image above, a computer illustration of the Valles Marineris Valley on the red planet, the largest valley in the solar system

In the image above, a computer illustration of the Valles Marineris Valley on the red planet, the largest valley in the solar system

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