NASA HiRise Valles Marineris Grand Canyon
Valles Marineris is currently the largest known canyon in the Solar System and it cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. This grand valley extends over 3,000 kilometers long, spans as much as 600 kilometers across, and delves as much as 8 kilometers deep. For comparison, the Grand Canyon in Arizona spans 800 kilometers long, 30 kilometers across, and 1.8 kilometers deep. It is unknown how Valles Marineris formed, although a leading hypothesis holds that it started as a crack billions of years ago as the planet cooled. Read more to see two new images captured by NASA’s HiRise camera and for additional information.

HiRise (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) is a camera mounted on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been studying the Red Planet since 2006. Weighing 143-pounds, this instrument was built under the direction of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. It consists of a 0.5 m (19.7 in) aperture reflecting telescope, the largest yet of any deep space mission, thus enabling it to take pictures of Mars with resolutions of 0.3 m/pixel (about 1 foot).

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NASA HiRise Valles Marineris Grand Canyon
NASA HiRise Valles Marineris Grand Canyon