The photographs coming back from the Martian orbiters sure help you appreciate the very different terrain on the Red Planet. And here’s an example of one of the extreme places on Mars: the Valles Marineris the deepest, longest valley in the Solar System. The image was captured by ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft and reveals a region of the valley called Candor Chasma.
Take a look at a photograph of Mars, and it’s easy to spot Valles Marineris. It’s a 3,000 km-long (1,800 mile) gash carved in the side of the Red Planet. Planetary geologists think it formed around the same time as the nearby Tharsis Bulge – the volcanic region that houses Olympus Mons, the largest mountain in the Solar System.
It’s likely a rift valley, similar to the East African Rift Valley here on Earth. As the giant volcanoes formed, the Valles Marineris opened up as a crack in the ground. Flowing carbon dioxide could have weathered it further, eroding it and forcing the walls to cave in.
As I mentioned above, this is just a tiny portion of the whole rift. The canyon walls tower 8,500 metres (28,000 feet) above the floor below.
And if there was one place in the whole Solar System that I could travel to and see with my own eyes, it would be right here. So come on NASA, hurry up with that mission to Mars already.
Original Source: ESA News Release