The abyss

Mars Express: New images reveal the depths of the red planet's largest canyon

Mars is a planet of extremes.

Not only does it have the tallest known volcano in the Solar System, but it also has the deepest canyon — plunging miles further than any cavern on Earth.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University

ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

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Mars Express has been circling the red planet since 2003.

The mission’s main objective is to search for signs of water beneath the surface of Mars by mapping its atmosphere and terrain.

Recently, Mars Express imaged a slice of the red planet’s deepest canyon, Valles Marineris.

The gigantic region is almost 10 times longer and five times deeper than the Grand Canyon on Earth.

NASA

MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

It’s also a spot that researchers think may have once been filled with flowing water.

And recent observations show it could potentially have ice frozen below the ground today.

Within the canyon, Mars Express specifically looked at this slice of the canyon, which contains the Tithonium and Ius Chasmata.

ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

Here are four new views of the red planet’s depths:

ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

3. This view from the inside of the Tithonium Chasma shows what the landscape would look like to the human eye since Mars Express captures images in true color.

ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

Here’s where the previous image is located — in the dark dunes region (upper left) of this map.

ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

1. A relatively recent landslide took place on the side of this mound inside the Tithonium Chasma, as evidenced by parallel lines and a collapsed section to the right.

ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

The location of the previous image stretches between mound 1 and the landslide boxes in this map.

ESA/DLR/FU Berlin