Never-before-seen images of the largest canyon in the Solar System

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Our neighbor the Red Planet is not called Mars by chance, it is of course its red color which is clearly visible ineye bare from the Earth, which earned him the name of the Roman god of war (inherited from Babylon and Greece). So when two millennia after Caesar, from 1962 to 1971, the Mariner first revealed details of Mars that had never been seen before, revealing a barren, dry world, and playing a huge wound at a height of nearly 4,000 kilometers, how can it not. to think of the face of a wounded warrior. Named Valles Marineris in honor of Mariner 9 who made its discovery, this impressive canyon in its dimensions is none other than the longest, widest and deepest canyon in Solar system.

his the formation is related to tectonic plates that tore through this area billions of years ago, leaving a very strange indentation that ended in the west with a network of valleys, the Labyrinth of Night. Here, in these images taken by the noble European space probe Mars Express — he knows the Red Planet “like the back of his hand” since he has been flying over it for almost 20 years — we are not far from it, due east, in front of Tithonium Chasma and Ius Chasma canyons.

In the depths of the Valles Marineris

On the walls of these two notches, one can observe the action of WIND that in billions of years project manager in this environment, patiently eliminating it, unlike Grand Canyon of Earth (smaller), carved by the Colorado River. Debris piled up, thousands of meters below. There, moreover, there is nothing smooth or frozen either. There are many reliefs, of different origin, such as mountains that reach more than 3,000 meters, which are also broken and plowed by the wind. Finally, ESA reports, between these two mountains, there are rich bumps minerals sulphate with water »which keeps the memory of the ancient very precious fluid in these deep valleys in places of 7 kilometers.

Paradise for Mars geologists who is reading these pictures of Mars Express and also from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter the fascinating past of this planet close to ours.

In pictures: visit Hebes Chasma Canyon

Article on Xavier Demeersmann published on October 17, 2013

Thanks to the images obtained by the European space probe Mars Express (Esa), examine with an unparalleled level of detail the reliefs of Hebes Chasma, a vast Martian canyon damaged by billions of years of erosion.

the red planet presents a wide variety of scenes with which we are more familiar. Also, it’s not uncommon to find some that echo what we know on Earth: here volcanoes, surely giants, there are valleys of evils or dried up rivers. Without forgetting the canyons with disproportionate dimensions such as Valles Marineris, the most prominent in the solar system, which reaches almost 4,000 km. An impressive scar on the surface of Mars, perfectly visible from space.

The region has a few injuries, all probably formed within the first billion years of the planet’s history. For exogeologists, their origin can be seen in the rise of titanic volcanoes in the group of Mountains of Tharsis overwhelmingly dominated Mount Olympus, 23 km long and as wide as France. Stretched, the bread The Martian would have been broken, indented at several points. Billions of years after this geological period, we discovered these gaping wounds that had been reshaped by erosion, thanks to the cameras of the orbiters in place.

The amazing canyon of Hebes Chasma on Mars

About 300 km north of Valles Marineris is the capital of the country Hebes Chasma (pictures top and bottom), another wound in the area. The canyon stretches from east to west for about 315 km, and from north to south for 125 km, for a depth of nearly 8 km! Take a closer look at the mosaic of eight highly detailed images, captured between 2004 and 2009 at HRSC camera (High Resolution Stereo Camera) of the Mars Express probe, scientists noticed several interesting points.

What attracted their attention the most was the high plateau, or table, which remains in the center of the depression whose summit is at the same height as the surrounding environment. The data obtained by MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) by NASA and the European space probe showed that its walls, apart from materials of volcanic origin that appear to be buried throughout the region, are characterized by layers of sediments. clearnessand covered with dust spread out and moved by trade wind or different landslide.

One of the curiosities of this damaged landscape is the horseshoe-shaped feature, which can be seen at one of its ends. on waste from a collapsed wall, we can make a long flow of dark materials ending, below, in a strange pool of black ink. It cannot be ruled out that the sudden melting of the ice or an underground release was the cause.

It is impossible to forget the many passages carved into the slopes of table, testimony to the relative weakness of the building stones. Their study revealed the presence of hydrated minerals, which can only be formed in the continuous presence ofliquid water. A lake probably occupied this deep depression for at least several thousand years before disappearing. Under the erosion of WINDwater and landslides, the canyon of Hebes Chasma continues to grow.

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