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A plateau and surrounding steep slopes within the Valles Marineris.
Click on image for full size
Image from: Malin Space Science Systems

Gullies of Valles Marineris

This view of Valles Marineris shows debris-filled gullies with intervening rocky spurs, reminiscent of terrestrial canyons.

Layered rocks on Earth form from

  • sedimentary processes (such as those that formed the layered rocks now seen in Arizona's Grand Canyon) and
  • volcanic processes (such as layering seen in the Waimea Canyon on the island of Kauai).
Both origins are possible for the Martian layered rocks seen in Valles Marineris.

The layered rocks seen in these images indicates that there may have been a complex and extremely active early history for geologic processes on Mars.

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Valles Marineris

Valles Marineris is a large system of canyons, shown in this image, that stretches 4000 km (2500 mi) along the equator of Mars. It was first imaged in detail by Mariner 9. The scene to the left (centered...more

Martian Volcanoes

On this map of Mars, the lightly cratered Tharsis Ridge is shown, as well as the heavily cratered Martian highlands (near the bottom of the picture), and Valles Marineris to the right. The volcanoes are...more

The Transfer of Water in Martian History

The unusual global geography of Mars helps to explain the fact that water has been drawn from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere of the planet through all of Martian history (that is, from...more

The Martian Cryosphere

The Martian geography is one of high altitudes at high southern latitudes and low altitudes at low latitudes. The ground is less frozen at low latitudes because it is warmer and water can evaporate. Thus,...more

Martian Floods

Separate from the Martian outflow channels, or the river valley networks, are large Martian lakes (600 km, or ~1000 miles across) which exhibit evidence of a periodic and catastrophic release of water...more

Martian Fog

This is an image of fog in a Martian canyon. The presence of fog provides evidence of water, and a water cycle on Mars. More fog has been seen in images returned by Mars Global Surveyor of the south polar...more

Martian Orbital Eccentricity

The Martian climate is more influenced by the shape of the Martian orbit than the climate of the Earth is influenced by the shape of the Earth's orbit. The orbit of Mars is more elliptical than that of...more

Martian Storm

This is an image of a storm moving across the Martian terrain. The camera is looking down upon the storm and the storm front forms a spiral pattern, the same way terrestrial storms are presented on the...more

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