Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Melas, Candor and Ophir Chasmas: centre of Valles Marineris


These images, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, show the central part of the 4000-kilometre long Valles Marineris canyon on Mars.

These images, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, show the central part of the 4000-kilometre long Valles Marineris canyon on Mars.

The HRSC obtained these images during during orbits 334 and 360 with a resolution of approximately 21 metres per pixel for the earlier orbit and 30 metres per pixel for the latter.

The scenes show an area of approximately 300 by 600 kilometres and are taken from an image mosaic that was created from the two orbit sequences. The image above is located between 3º to 13º South, and 284º to 289º East. Valles Marineris was named after the US Mariner 9 probe, the first spacecraft to image this enormous feature in 1971. Here, the huge canyon which runs east to west is at its widest in the north-south direction.

It remains unclear how this gigantic geological feature, unparalleled in the Solar System, was formed. Tensions in the upper crust of Mars possibly led to cracking of the highlands. Subsequently, blocks of the crust slid down between these tectonic fractures.

The fracturing of Valles Marineris could have occurred thousands of millions of years ago, when the Tharsis bulge (west of Valles Marineris) began to form as the result of volcanic activity and subsequently grew to the dimensions of greater than a thousand kilometres in diameter and more than ten kilometres high. On Earth, such a tectonic process is called ‘rifting’, presently occurring on a smaller scale in the Kenya rift in eastern Africa.

The collapse of large parts of the highland is an alternative explanation. For instance, extensive amounts of water ice could have been stored beneath the surface and were then melted as a result of thermal activity, most likely the nearby volcanic Tharsis province.

The water could have travelled towards the northern lowlands, leaving cavities beneath the surface where the ice once existed. The roofs could no longer sustain the load of the overlying rocks, so the area collapsed.

Regardless of how Valles Marineris might have formed, it is clear that once the depressions were formed and the surface was topographically structured, heavy erosion then began shaping the landscape.

Two distinct landforms can be distinguished. On one hand, we see sheer cliffs with prominent edges and ridges. These are erosion features that are typical in arid mountain zones on Earth.

Today, the surface of Mars is bone dry, so wind and gravity are the dominant processes that shape the landscape (this might have been much different in the geological past of the planet when Valles Marineris possibly had flowing water or glaciers winding down its slopes).

In contrast, some gigantic ‘hills’ (indeed, between 1000 and 2000 metres high) located on the floors of the valleys have a smoother topography and a more sinuous outline. So far, scientists have no definitive explanation for why these different landforms exist.

Below the northern scarp, there are several landslides, where material was transported over a distance of up to 70 kilometres. Also seen in the image there are several structures suggesting flow of material in the past. Therefore, material could have been deposited in the valleys, making the present floor look heterogeneous.

In the centre of the image, there are surface features that appear similar to ice flows. These were previously identified in pictures from the US Viking probes of the 1970s; their origin remains a mystery.

The colour images were processed using the HRSC nadir (vertical view) and three colour channels. The perspective views were calculated from the digital terrain model derived from the stereo channels.

The 3D anaglyph image was created from the nadir channel and one of the stereo channels. Stereoscopic glasses are needed to view the 3D image. Image resolution has been decreased for use on the internet.

For more information on Mars Express HRSC images, you might like to read our updated ’Frequently Asked Questions’.

Guido de Marchi | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

nachricht Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch
20.10.2016 | The Optical Society

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>