Although there are still many mysteries that we have to solve, Mars it is becoming clearer every day, thanks to a dozen working robots that we now have either on the surface of the red planet or in its orbit.
In this latest issue of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express orbiter, a unique feature of Mars geology is shown with fascinating detail.
Looking like giant scratches on the planet’s surface, these grooves are part of a giant fault system on Mars known as Tantalus Fossae.
Aside from the details in the picture, what’s really fascinating is the scale we’re looking at – these gutters are up to 350 meters (1148 feet) deep and 10 kilometers wide (6.2 miles) and can stretch for 1,000 kilometers.
An image of true color, which means that it reflects what people would see if they looked at the region with their own eyes.
Technically it’s not a “photo”; The image was created from a digital model of the terrain of Mars and using the color channels of a high-resolution stereo camera on the Mars Express ESA – but it represents an incredibly clear view of the vast territory.
The image above shows an oblique perspective, while the image below is a top-down view of Tantalus Fossae.
According to An ESA Press Release, the terrestrial separation of these images is approximately 18 meters per pixel, and the centers of the images are approximately 43 ° N / 257 ° E. Midnight on the right.
So what are we looking at?
Fossa – hollow or depressionand Tantalus Fossae run along the eastern side of a sprawling relatively flat Martian volcano called Alba Mons.
When it comes to surface area, Alba Mons is the largest volcano on Mars – its volcanic flow fields stretch for at least 1,350 km (840 miles). But at the highest point its height is only 6.8 kilometers.
These pits were created when Alba Mons rose from the planet’s crust, causing the area around it to deform and break.
“The Tantalus Fossae faults are an excellent example of a surface feature known as combs” explains the release. “Each trench was formed when two parallel faults opened, causing the rock between them to sink into the resulting void.”
A similar feature is on the west side of Mount Alba, known as Alba Fossae.
These images are not only beautiful in appearance – they can also help us better understand how the surface of Mars was formed.
It is assumed that these structures are not all formed at once, but one after another, which leads to the fact that some valleys intersect each other.
For example, the crater you see in the images has ridges running through it, indicating that the crater was there first. In the two upper images you can see a smaller crater on the left, which is at the top of the gutters and probably younger.
The Mars Express revolved around Mars for over 18 years. We look forward to new unique species on our neighboring planet.