Tithonium chasma It is a big valley. It is an astonishing 810 kilometers (503 miles) in length, which is a large part of it JM Marineris The largest canyon system we know of in the entire solar system.
This close-up image was taken in 2013 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board Mars Orbital reconnaissance, and it was fair Featured as HiRISE Image of the Day.
The image shows about a kilometer (0.6 miles) of Mars terrain with rolling hills and valleys, but as you can see in the other images, when you start to zoom out, that’s just a small fraction of a huge whole.
But how did you get there? Grand Canyon on Earth — It is five times less and ten times shorter From Valles Marineris — Carved by the Colorado River.
But scientists aren’t sure what would have formed the 8 to 10 km (5 to 6.2 mi) deep valley in Valles Marineris and Thunium Chasma, so they were taking pictures to try to figure it out.
We know that the tilt of the axis of Mars (called deviationNot as stable as Earth, ranging widely from more than 60 ° to less than 10 ° in the ancient past.
“It is possible, although not proven, that the higher eccentricity caused a partial melt of some of the water ice on Mars,” HiRISE spokesperson Edwin Kite Books back in 2014.
«Our best chance to understand this is to find piles of ice, dust, silt, or sand that have accumulated over many cycles of tilted change.»
The Tithonium Chasma image above shows these results. Layers of sediment — those Dark and light lines Run diagonally down the center of the image — relatively uniform, possibly showing gradual sediment buildup over many long cycles of this axial tilt change.
Even seven years after this photo was taken, we still aren’t sure why Valles Marineris was created. Some researchers doubt A large tectonic «crack» could split the surface of Mars, only to be reinforced later by a lava flow, or possibly water if the planet’s axial tilt is exactly right.
But really, although these images are scientifically interesting to astronomers, they are also fascinating.
The astonishing scale of these other peaks and bottoms, taken by a spacecraft 264 kilometers (163.8 miles) from the planet’s surface, cannot really be underestimated.
You can see more photos of Valles Marineris here.