Melas Chasma: The Deepest Abyss on Mars

by Nancy Atkinson on October 8, 2010

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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 is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE October 8, 2010 at 12:32 PM

I like that ESA guy’s name: G. Neukum

norock October 9, 2010 at 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 at 5:44 AM

Dukes bro :)

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