The Sciences

Photo: Immense Mars Canyon Shows Evidence of Ancient Water

80beatsBy Eliza StricklandOct 11, 2010 4:33 PM
Mars-canyon.jpg

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OK, Mars wins this contest for bragging rights. The photo above shows the Melas Chasma on Mars, which reaches a depth of 5.6 miles; it's part of the staggering the Valles Marineris rift valley, which stretches almost 2,500 miles across the surface of the red planet. For comparison's sake, our earthly Grand Canyon is 1.1 miles deep and 277 miles long. This remarkable image was taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. In addition to giving us something neat to gawk at, the image also reveals evidence of Mars's watery past.

Part of the canyon wall collapsed in multiple landslides in the distant past, with debris fanning out into the valley below. Scientists analyzing the texture of the rocks deposited by the landslides say they were transported by liquid water, water ice, or mud. [ScienceNOW]

Related Content: 80beats: NASA’s New Mars Mission: To Study the Mystery of the Missing Atmosphere

80beats: It’s Alive! NASA Test-Drives Its New Hulking Mars Rover, Curiosity

80beats: Vast Ocean May Have Covered One-Third of Primordial Mars

80beats: Mars Rover Sets Endurance Record: Photos From Opportunity’s 6 Years On-Planet

Image: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

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