Categories: Mars

Melas Chasma: The Deepest Abyss on Mars


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.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

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