The European Space Agency (ESA) image taken using the High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) also captured incredible details on the canyon floor. Unlike the Grand Canyon, which was carved out by the Colorado River, Valles Marineris is believed to have formed from separate tectonic plates.
This violent movement on the surface of Mars creates a jagged canyon floor, as seen in the new image. ESA officials wrote in a statement accompanying the new image, “Ice Chasma’s curved floor is just as eye-catching.”
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ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, which has been orbiting Mars since 2003, captured details of the two trenches that make up the western part of Valles Marineris, namely Ius Chasma and Tithonium Chasma. The images not only capture excellent surface detail, but also highlight the impressive size of the trench.
“When tectonic plates split apart, it appears to have formed a jagged rock triangle that looks like a row of shark teeth. Over time, these rock formations have collapsed and eroded away. “
Valles Marineris is 4,000 km long, 200 km wide and 7 km deep, about 10 times as long, 20 times as wide, and 5 times deeper than the Grand Canyon. Lus Chasma on the south side of the valley is 840 km long, while Tithonium Chasma on the north side is 805 km long.
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In comparison, the Grand Canyon is 446 km long and over a mile at its deepest point. When compared to conditions on Earth, Valles Marineris extends from the northern tip of Norway to the southern tip of Sicily.
ESA’s view of the two basins shows Mars’ diverse surface features, ranging from deep sand dunes created by nearby volcanic activity. The spacecraft studying the Valles Marineris has found evidence that liquid water may have filled the valley.
The Mars Express mission detected signs of water-bearing sulfate minerals in the Ius Chasma and Tithonium Chasma regions. ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), part of the ExoMars mission, detected water ice beneath the surface of Candor Chaos, which lies near the center of the giant canyon system.