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.
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.
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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.