New Mars Snapshot captures Tumbled Boulders in the Grand Canyon

Steven Burnett
Steven Burnett

Updated · Jan 19, 2022

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You can meditate on this huge rock garden.

This photo was shared by the European Space Agency in August 2020. It is dramatic and reminiscent of Ansel Adams.

This picture shows a small portion of the Noctis Labyrinthus — “labyrinth” of the night — near the intersection of Lus Chasma Valles Marineris — “grand canyon” on Mars. Valles Marineris measures more than 2,500 miles in length, is wider than the United States, and can reach depths up to 4 miles. Earth’s Grand Canyon is only one mile deep. Scientists believe that the area was formed billions of years ago by a tectonic crack within Mars’ crust. This occurred as the planet cooled.

CaSSIS (the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System) was the camera that was used on the orbiter. It captures images of Martian surfaces, which could be linked to gas sources such as volcanoes.

Also visible in the photo are wind-whipped ripples that run to the right of a cliff that cuts through the center of the scene. The terrain is also marked by a few small craters.

ESA and Russian Roscosmos collaborated to create the spacecraft. It began its mission back in 2016. It has provided numerous images that have helped to catalog the planet’s atmosphere and map Mars’ potential water-rich areas. Its mission is to detect methane or other signs of biological and geological activity on Mars.

Although organisms on Earth release methane through digestion, there are other geological processes that can create methane such as the oxidation minerals. ExoMars also monitors how the seasons impact the Martian atmosphere and hunts for water vapor or ice. These findings will be used by scientists to help them choose locations for future land exploration.

Steven Burnett

Steven Burnett

Steven Burnett has over 15 years of experience spanning a wide range of industries and domains. He has a flair for collating statistical data through extensive research practices, and is well-versed in generating industry-specific reports that enables his clients to better comprehend a market’s landscape and aid in making well-informed decisions. His hobbies include playing football and the guitar.