What Does the Grand Canyon Look Like from Space?

by Nancy Atkinson on March 27, 2014

Image of the Grand Canyon from the International Space Station on March 26, 2014. Credit: NASA/JAXA Koichi Wakata.

Image of the Grand Canyon from the International Space Station on March 26, 2014. Credit: NASA/JAXA Koichi Wakata.

Can you spot the Grand Canyon in this picture? It is surprisingly hard to see. Astronaut Koichi Wakata took this picture on March 26, 2014 from the International Space Station, and thankfully he provided a clue: look in the bottom center portion in the photo.

Astronaut Karen Nyberg also took a photo of the Grand Canyon last fall from the ISS, and this one offers a little better closeup:

If you’ve ever stood at this Canyon’s edge or even flew over in a plane, you know how dramatic the view is. From space … not so much.

You may have seen a fake image of the Grand Canyon from space floating around the various social medias last year that looks much more majestic. I won’t share it here, but suffice to say, it’s a doctored up aerial view with a starry sky photoshopped in. The images here are the real view of the Grand Canyon from space.

Earth’s Grand Canyon pales in comparison to Valles Marineris on Mars– the biggest canyon we know of in the Solar System — which is ten times longer and five times deeper than our Grand Canyon here on Earth.

In depth: Valles Marineris: The Grandest Canyon of All

Valles Marineris as seen in this mosaic of Viking orbiter images. Noctis Labyrinthus at the left, Melas Chasma in the middle, Hebes Chasma just left of top center, Eos Chasma at lower right and Ganges Chasma just above center right. Credit: NASA/JPL

Valles Marineris as seen in this mosaic of Viking orbiter images. Noctis Labyrinthus at the left, Melas Chasma in the middle, Hebes Chasma just left of top center, Eos Chasma at lower right and Ganges Chasma just above center right. Credit: NASA/JPL

About 

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

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