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Fly Over the Floodplains of Mars

Over 3 billion years ago, dramatic flood events likely carved this gigantic channel system on Mars. It extends some 3,000 km and covers over 1.55 million square kilometers. ESA released this flyover video today, on the 10th anniversary of the Mars Express spacecraft’s launch to the Red Planet on January 14, 2004.

A mosaic of 67 images from the Mars Express spacecraft of Kasei Valles on Mars. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU (G. Neukum)

A mosaic of 67 images from the Mars Express spacecraft of Kasei Valles on Mars. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU (G. Neukum)

ESA describes the scene in the video:

The scene spans 987 km in the north–south direction, 19–36°N, and 1550 km in the east–west direction (280–310°E). It covers 1.55 million square kilometers, an area equivalent to the size of Mongolia.

Kasei Valles splits into two main branches that hug a broad island of fractured terrain — Sacra Mensa — rising 2 km above the channels that swerve around it. While weaker materials succumbed to the erosive power of the fast-flowing water, this hardier outcrop has stood the test of time.

Slightly further downstream, the flood waters did their best to erase the 100 km-wide Sharonov crater, crumpling its walls to the south. Around Sharonov many small streamlined islands form teardrop shapes rising from the riverbed as water swept around these natural obstacles.

Source: ESA

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Astroraider January 14, 2014, 4:33 PM

    To me, it appears these are more like the valleys and such along the continental shelves … perhaps what is left are just the flows into a long gone ocean or sea.

  • Aqua4U January 14, 2014, 8:04 PM

    Kasei Valles appears to be part of a much larger feature that includes most of the Valles Marinaris!? KV tends to ‘arc’ CCW over and intersect the VM in the vicinity of the most tangled topography composed of huge jumbled blocks…..

    http://tools.wmflabs.org/geohack/geohack.php?pagename=Kasei_Valles&params=24.6_N_65.0_W_globe:Mars_type:landmark

  • cptdavep January 15, 2014, 4:02 AM

    Amazing video. I hadn’t realised there were so many impact craters on Mars. I love it when you see features obviously created by water, next to a huge crater, with several smaller craters inside that. Just shows how mindblowingly ancient the landscape is.

  • Mike Egan January 15, 2014, 5:22 AM

    Great survey data and brilliant video but it is not clear where such a volume of water came from or went to.

  • philw1776 January 15, 2014, 3:53 PM

    Coincidently, the Kassei Valles complex is the site of Elon Musk’s 2048 Mars Colony in the story written for my granddaughters where they emigrate to Mars with their families in 2048. Told by their pre-teen daughters.

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