In many ways, Mars is the planet that most resembles Earth. Polar ice caps, an almost 24-hour rotation period (about 24 hours 37 minutes), mountains, plains, dust storms, volcanoes, and even a kind of Grand Canyon give Mars a similarity to Earth. Recently, images of the Martian “Grand Canyon” were published as part of the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE).
The Valles Marineris, a giant canyon system on Mars, dwarfs the Grand Canyon in the southwestern United States. The mountain range on Mars occupies 4000 km. This is the distance between Los Angeles and New York. The depth of the Martian canyon is 7 km, while the Grand Canyon is only 2000 meters.
Recently released photos from the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) aboard the Martian Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) show stunning views of Candor Chasma’s rocks. Recall that this is one of the largest canyons in the Mariner Valley.
Close inspection of the HiRISE images reveals jagged rocks protruding from the wind-blown sand and dust and canal gullies. Perhaps they appeared due to the seasonal runoff of liquid water along the sloping slopes of the rocks. As with most high-resolution imaging systems, HiRISE sacrifices its field of view for a clear and detailed view of the planet.
By collecting wide, large images and simultaneously taking amazingly high-resolution close-ups, scientists gain a better understanding of the structure of Candor Chasma, Valles Marineris, and general geological processes, and the deep history of Mars. Unlike the canyon in Arizona, the Mariner Valley was not formed by surface river erosion.