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Valles Marineris, the grand valley of Mars named after the Mariner program which first took close-up images.
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Image from: USGS

Valles Marineris

Next to the Tharsis Ridge is Valles Marineris, a very long canyon of Mars.

As can be seen in the image, many huge ancient rivers extend toward the top of the image. The three Tharsis volcanoes (dark red spots) are visible on the leftmost edge of the image. To the south are the highlands; very ancient ground, covered by many craters.

Better images returned by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft allow a closer look of this unusual canyon. These images show slopes descending steeply to the north and south in broad, debris-filled gullies. These gullies look a lot like canyons on Earth.

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The Tharsis Ridge

This image, taken from the Mars Global Surveyor mission (MGS), shows the Tharsis Ridge, the green/blue area in the middle of the picture, as well as a portion of the southern hemisphere of Mars. The green...more

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Martian Cratered Terrain

This is an example of the cratered surface of Mars. Almost all of the surface of Mars is covered with craters. Craters can be wiped out over time, so a surface which has many craters is very old. The lowlands...more

An Overview of the Mars Global Surveyor Mission

The mission of Mars Global Surveyor (MGS for short) is to map the surface of Mars from space. MGS is also looking at the atmosphere of Mars and the weather of Mars. MGS and the Mars Pathfinder (MPF for...more

Gullies of Valles Marineris

This view of Valles Marineris shows debris-filled gullies very much like canyons on Earth. The layered rocks seen in these images indicates that there may have been a complicated and active early history...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA