Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Discovers Largest Canyon in Solar System

Mar, 2021 - By WMR

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Discovers Largest Canyon in Solar System

The images of the Mars canyon suggest that it is 10 times the length of the Grand Canyon and has three times its depth. Researchers are attempting to understand what led to its formation.

Valles Marineris, an abyss cutting through the Martian surface, is around 140 kilometers above the Grand Canyon. The vast canyon which spreads across 4000 kilometers spans almost a quarter of Mars’ total circumference. This huge incision in the Martian bedrock is 10 times as extensive as the Grand Canyon on Earth, and thrice as deep. This makes it the largest chasm in the solar system. Moreover, it is the most mysterious of all canyons according to a study being carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Arizona.

With the help of HiRISE, a camera with an incredibly powerful resolution, which is mounted on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, researchers have been able to take close-up images of the planet’s peculiar features since 2006. However, despite taking some truly awe-inspiring sots of the canyon, researchers are still unsure about what led to the formation of the massive canyon. Researchers believe that the Valles Marineris may not have come into being by billions of years of surging water which was the phenomenon behind the formation of the Grand Canyon. Mars has a dry and hot environment to accommodate gushing rivers which had enough force to rip through the planet’s crust. However, researchers from the ESA (European Space Agency) have reason to believe that some of the canyon’s existing channels may have deepened by flowing water millions of years ago.

Researchers suggest that a group of volcanoes in the Tharsis region which were thrusting through the crust may have caused the gash to open up billions of years ago. The bubbling magma below the volcanoes’ surface could have caused the crust to stretch and rip and eventually collapse into valleys and troughs, creating today’s Valles Marineris.

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