Arizona’s Grand Canyon may be stunning, but it’s just a “scratch” compared to the massive Vallis Mariners Canyon on Mars.
Cutting the valley along the Martian equator for about 2,500 miles, it would reach from New York City to San Francisco if it were placed in the United States, according to NASA. The valley floor plunges 7 miles into the surrounding plains. This is as deep as some of the deepest parts of the Earth’s ocean.
It is the largest canyon in the solar system, and new images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveal details about its colossal size.
The images were captured with HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet. It is one of six instruments aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter University of Arizona He said.
Despite some really stunning photos of Valles Marineris, scientists are still not sure how the massive canyon complex formed, according to LiveScience.
“Unlike the Grand Canyon on Planet Earth, Vallis Marineris may not have been carved by billions of years of rushing water; the Red Planet is so hot and dry that it has not absorbed a river large enough to break the crust like this.” Live Science He said.
Possibly a large portion of the valley was open billions of years ago, and it was European Space Agency He said, when a group of nearby volcanoes known as the Tharsis Zone were first emerging from Martian soil.
“When the Tharsis swell was inflated with magma during the first billions of the planet’s life, the surrounding crust expanded, tearing and eventually collapsing in the giant Vallis Marineris basins,” the space agency said.
The Tharsis bulge is home to Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system. Science Times mentioned.
Additional analysis of high-resolution images like this will help solve the bewildering origin story of the largest valley in the solar system, according to LiveScience.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mars Valley is larger than the Grand Canyon, and it is the largest in the solar system: NASA