The largest canyon in the Solar System
cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars.
Marineris, the grand valley
extends over 3,000 kilometers long, spans as much as 600 kilometers
across, and delves as much as 8 kilometers deep. By comparison, the Earth's
Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA is
800 kilometers long, 30 kilometers across, and 1.8 kilometers deep. The
origin of the Valles
Marineris remains unknown,
although a leading hypothesis holds that it started as a crack
billions of years ago as the planet cooled. Several geologic processes
have been identified in the
canyon. The above
mosaic was created
from over 100 images of Mars
taken by Viking
Orbiters in the 1970s.
Because the source file for this image is 278 Megabytes, we can offer this image in a Mega Size 36" x 48" (image size 30"x40") wall-sized hires photographic quality print. Stunning.
Mosaic of the Valles Marineris hemisphere of Mars projected into point
perspective, a view similar to that which one would see from a
spacecraft. The viewer's distance is 2,500 kilometers from the surface of
the planet. The mosaic is composed of 102 Viking Orbiter images of
Mars. The center of the scene (lat -7, lon 78) shows the entire Valles
Marineris canyon system, over 3,000 kilometers long and up to 8
kilometers deep, extending from Noctis Labyrinthus, the arcuate system
of graben to the west, to the chaotic terrain to the east. Many huge
ancient river channels begin from the chaotic terrain and north-central
canyons and run north. Many of the channels flowed into a basin called
Acidalia Planitia, which is the dark area in the extreme north of this
picture. The three Tharsis volcanoes (dark red spots), each about 25
kilometers high, are visible to the west. South of Valles Marineris is
very ancient terrain covered by many impact craters.
The Mariner Valley, also known as the Valles Marineris canyon system, appears in this mosaic of images from NASA's Viking spacecraft as a huge gouge across the red planet. This "Grand Canyon" of Mars is about 2500 miles long and up to 4 miles deep. By comparison, the Earth's Grand Canyon is less than 500 miles long and 1 mile deep.
Image Processing by Jody Swann/Tammy Becker/Alfred McEwen, using the
PICS (Planetary Image Cartography System) image processing system
developed at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona.