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Valles Marineris: The Largest Canyon In The Solar System Captured By Viking

Valles Marineris (100 Images Stitched Together)

blank - Valles Marineris: The Largest Canyon In The Solar System Captured By Viking

The largest canyon in the Solar System, Valles Marineris, is a wonder to behold. Located on Mars, it cuts a wide swath across the face of the red planet and extends over 3,000 kilometers in length. It spans as much as 600 kilometers across at its widest point and delves as deep as 8 kilometers below the surface—by comparison, Earth’s Grand Canyon in Arizona is 800 kilometers long and 30 kilometers across at its widest point.

The origin of 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, including tectonic activity and erosion from water flows or ice movement.

This mosaic was created from over 100 images taken by Viking Orbiters in the 1970s.

Valles Marineris: The Largest Canyon In The Solar System Captured By Viking

Introduction

Valles Marineris (“Mariner Valley” or “The Valley of Death”) is a system of canyons that runs along the Martian surface east of the Tharsis region. The valley system is over 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) long and as much as 186 miles (300 km) wide and up to 6 miles (10 km) deep. This canyon on Mars dwarfs the Grand Canyon on Earth. In fact, if Valles Marineris were on Earth, it would stretch from New York to Los Angeles. According to NASA, this canyon is likely the result of tectonic activity on the Red Planet similar to tectonic activity such as faulting and crustal stretching on Earth. The canyon was first discovered in 1971 by NASA’s Mariner 9 orbiter. The spacecraft sent back images of the canyon, and those images were reconstructed into a complete image by Viking orbiters in 1976.”

Valles Marineris (“Mariner Valley” or “The Valley of Death”) is a system of canyons that runs along the Martian surface east of the Tharsis region.

Valles Marineris is a system of canyons that runs along the Martian surface east of the Tharsis region. It is the largest canyon in the solar system, spanning about 4,000 miles (6,400 km).

The Valles Marineris was discovered by Mariner 9 in 1972. Its name means “Mariner Valley” or “The Valley of Death”, referencing its role as a burial site for many spacecraft that crashed into it over time. The massive canyon was formed by tectonic forces, along with erosion from water and wind erosion over billions of years

The valley system is over 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) long and as much as 186 miles (300 km) wide and up to 6 miles (10 km) deep.

The valley system is over 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) long and as much as 186 miles (300 km) wide and up to 6 miles (10 km) deep. This makes it the longest canyon in the solar system. The sheer length of this geological feature makes it difficult to capture a single image that encompasses all of its details. This is why NASA’s Viking spacecraft captured multiple images of Valles Marineris as they orbited Mars in 1979.

Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon of Mars Image Credit: NASA, USGS, Viking Project
Valles Marineris: The Grand Canyon of Mars Image Credit: NASA, USGS, Viking Project

This canyon on Mars dwarfs the Grand Canyon on Earth. In fact, if Valles Marineris were on Earth, it would stretch from New York to Los Angeles.

You may be wondering how wide and long Valles Marineris is. Well, the canyon is 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) long! To put that into perspective, the Grand Canyon on Earth is 277 miles (446 kilometers) long. The canyon is also 186 miles (300 kilometers) wide—more than five times as wide as the Grand Canyon!

If you were to compare Valles Marineris with other canyons in our solar system, it would be even more impressive:

  • Olympus Mons on Mars—the largest volcano in the solar system—is about 350 km across at its base. In other words, if you were standing at one side of Valles Marineris looking at one end, and you could see where it ended on your right-hand side almost instantly after looking at its beginning…

According to NASA, this canyon is likely the result of tectonic activity on the Red Planet similar to tectonic activity such as faulting and crustal stretching on Earth.

If you’ve ever taken a stroll through the Grand Canyon, or even just seen a picture of it, then you already have an idea of what Valles Marineris is like. In fact, both are just as deep and wide as each other! It’s only when put into perspective with the rest of our Solar System that we begin to understand how truly extraordinary this canyon is.

According to NASA, this canyon is likely the result of tectonic activity on Mars similar to tectonic activity such as faulting and crustal stretching on Earth. Tectonic activity occurs when geological forces move large pieces of land around—in other words, earthquakes (or creekside rumbles), mountains being formed from colliding plates (like when two continents collide), volcanoes erupting rainbows into clouds above them (those aren’t rainbows…just so you know).

In order for these things to happen here on Earth, we usually need oceans full of water in between us; otherwise, everything will die due to lack of oxygen as well as freeze over because there’s no sun for energy production/food consumption purposes. However! Our next-door neighbor planet has no such problems since it doesn’t have any water whatsoever—and yet still manages somehow anyway, thanks again I guess?

The canyon was first discovered in 1971 by NASA’s Mariner 9 orbiter. The spacecraft sent back images of the canyon, and those images were reconstructed into a complete image by Viking orbiters in 1976.

The canyon was first discovered in 1971 by NASA’s Mariner 9 orbiter. The spacecraft sent back images of the canyon, and those images were reconstructed into a complete image by Viking orbiters in 1976.

Viking 1 was launched on August 20, 1975 and landed on Mars on July 20, 1976. Its twin craft, Viking 2, was launched three weeks later on September 9th and reached Mars on August 7th, 1976. They were the first to land on Mars!

It is believed that water once flowed through Valles Marineris. As recently as 2007, evidence of flowing water was found in Valles Marineris however it may have occurred billions of years ago, long before complex life appeared on Earth.

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The largest canyon in the solar system is located on Mars.

The largest canyon in the solar system is located on Mars. Valles Marineris is 2,500 miles long and 186 miles wide. It’s so deep that it can swallow Mount Everest about 20 times over.

Valles Marineris is a network of complex valleys, called chasmata, that were created by tectonic activity between 3 and 1 billion years ago and have since been heavily eroded by wind. The canyon walls are steeper than those at Grand Canyon National Park because they’re made of soft sedimentary rock rather than hard volcanic rock.

Viking 1 was a robotic lander sent to Mars in 1975 as part of NASA’s Viking missions—the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring another planet from orbit around the Sun (or rather, our star’s families). Most importantly for us here on Earth: In 1976 Viking 2 became the first successful landing on Mars with its Lander Module receiving a transmission from both Voyagers 1 & 2 within their flyby mission—an achievement that still holds today!

Conclusion

Valles Marineris is an incredible canyon that stretches across the surface of Mars. The canyon system is over 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) long and as much as 186 miles (300 kilometers) wide and up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) deep. This canyon on Mars dwarfs the Grand Canyon on Earth. In fact, if Valles Marineris were on Earth, it would stretch from New York City all the way to Los Angeles. It’s believed that water once flowed through Valles Marineris but scientists aren’t sure when this happened–it could have been billions of years ago, long before complex life appeared on Earth!

What do you think?

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