The “Mars Express” orbiter belonging to the European Space Agency (ESA) has published new photos of Mars.
Since 2003, the spacecraft has been circling Mars, and in April it sent images of the enormous plain of Utopia Planitia, situated in the northern hemisphere of the Red Planet. The ice-covered plain is twice the area of the Sahara desert on Earth.
The most recent photographs from the ESA’s Mars Express satellite reveal two ridges in the Martian crust that are part of the formidable Valles Marineris canyon system, according to ESA. Valles Marineris has been likened to the Grand Canyon, but the United States is far bigger than Mars. This canyon is 4,000 kilometers long, 200 kilometers broad, and as deep as seven kilometers, making it ten times the length, twenty times the width, and five times the depth of the Grand Canyon. Valles Marineris is thought to have been produced by the separation of tectonic plates and is the greatest canyon system in the Solar System.
On the left (south) is Charisma with a length of 840 km, and on the right (north) is Titonium Chasma with a length of 805 km, as seen from the west of Valles Marineris. It was feasible to determine the canyons’ depth – around seven kilometers – thanks to high-resolution images of the surface. The photographs also depict other characteristics, such as sand that may have originated from the adjacent Tharsis volcanic region – a 3,000-meter-high mountain range that includes sulfate minerals and where a recent landslide occurred. The photographs were provided in a range of hues and tones, each depicting unique characteristics of the planet’s surface. The orbiter has already identified frozen lakes under the surface of Mars, and the ESA has even higher expectations for its advanced spacecraft.