The Valles Marineris canyon

Colour image of Melas Chasma

On 2 May 2004, the High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board the ESA Mars Express spacecraft obtained images from the central area of the Mars canyon called Valles Marineris.

The images were taken at a resolution of approximately 16 metres per pixel. The displayed region is located at the southern rim of the Melas Chasma at Mars latitude 12°S and Mars longitude 285°E. The images were taken on orbit 360 of Mars Express.

This region shows several clues to the morphological and geological development of the Valles Marineris. The images show many traces of volcanic activity and possibly water-related acitivity. However, a lot of the surface has been altered by subsequent geological processes, such as wind erosion and quakes.

Although many questions about the geological development of the Valles Marineris canyon have remained unanswered until now, the detailed HRSC image data may help to find some answers. Using HRSC data, scientists can focus on morphology – the evolution of rocks and land forms. They can also analyse the light relected by the canyon to understand which type of rocks it is made out of.

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Guido De Marchi EurekAlert!

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