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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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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF