Valles Marineris, the grand valley of Mars named after the Mariner program which first took close-up images.
Click on image for full size
Image from: USGS
Next to the Tharsis Ridge is Valles Marineris. Valles Marineris is a large system of
canyons that stretches 4000 km (2500 mi) along the equator of
Mars. It was first imaged in detail by Mariner 9.
As can be seen in the image, many huge ancient river channels originate from northerly canyons and extend north, toward the top of the image. The three Tharsis
volcanoes (dark red spots) are visible on the leftmost (western) edge of the image. To the south are the highlands; very ancient ground, covered by many craters.
High resolution images returned by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft allow closer examination of this unusual canyon. These images show slopes descending steeply to the north and south
debris-filled gullies with intervening rocky spurs.
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. In
either case, the total thickness of 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.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences?...more
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
This image shows the steep slopes of Valles Marineris at higher resolution. Very high resolution images returned by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft allow closer examination of this unusual canyon....more
There seems to be no running water on the surface of Mars today even though there is evidence for running water, including river channels such as those shown here, and there are frozen, icy polar caps....more
The surface of Mars consists of highlands and lowlands. The highlands are in the southern hemisphere (the bottom of the figure), and the lowlands are in the northern hemisphere of Mars (top of the figure)....more
Over the course of time there are many things which can cause the surface of a planet to change its appearance. winds, as shown in the example from the Martian surface Monument Valley on Earth is an example...more
This is an example of the cratered surface of Mars. Almost the entire 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
The mission of Mars Global Surveyor (MGS for short) is to map the surface of Mars from space, a mission somewhat like to the Magellan mission to Venus. The mission is also investigating the topmost portion...more