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Melas Chasma: The Deepest Abyss on Mars

Melas Chasma sinks 9 km below the surrounding surface, making it one of the lowest depressions on the planet. Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Melas Chasma is part of the huge Valles Marineris that cuts into the middle of Mars surface, making it a pretty interesting place: there is abundant evidence for water having flowed here, with ancient water-cut channels visible even from orbit. Also visible are landslides that have created huge fans of rubble at the base of the cliffs. These newest images from ESA’s Mars Express show Melas Chasma, which sinks 9 km below the surrounding surface, making it one of the lowest depressions on the planet. This is just a small part of the bigger Valles Marineris, which stretches for more than 4,000 km across the surface of Mars. Around Melas Chasma, there are lighter-coloured deposits of sulphate components that were probably deposited in a former lake.

Melas Chasma stretches for more than 4000 km across the face of Mars. Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

These images were captured in 2006 and just released by the Mars Express team. See more details and images at the ESA website.

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.

  • IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE October 8, 2010, 12:32 PM

    I like that ESA guy’s name: G. Neukum

  • norock October 9, 2010, 3:02 AM

    Haha, I was going to say the same thing about the guy’s name, and it turns out the only comments are about that! Hilarious.

  • futa October 9, 2010, 5:44 AM

    Dukes bro :)

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