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Collapsed Canyons on Mars.


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Mars canyon system.
Mars Valles Marineris canyon system.

The European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft took this photograph of a series of canyon systems on the surface of the Red Planet. The canyons are part of the Coprates Catena, which are at the southern end of the enormous Valles Marineris rift. Sections of the structures appear to have collapsed in on themselves at various points; a few landslides are visible. scientists theorize that underlying ice or water was removed, which then caused the rock and soil to collapse.

This image, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, shows the detailed structure of Coprates Catena, a southern part of the Valles Marineris canyon system on Mars.

The image was taken during orbit 438 with a ground resolution of approximately 43 metres per pixel. The displayed region covers an area centred at about latitude 14º South and longitude 301º East.

Coprates Catena is a chain of collapsed structures, which run parallel to the main valley Coprates Chasma.

These collapsed structures vary between 2500 and 3000 metres deep, which is far less than the depth of the main valley at 8000 metres. A few landslides can be seen on the valley walls.

The valley chains have no connection to the lowland plains as compared to the main valleys. This indicates that their origin is solely due to the expansion of the surface, or collapse, with removal of underlying material (possibly water or ice).

On the valley floor, brighter layers are exposed, which could be material of the same composition as seen in other parts of Valles Marineris, where sulphates have been measured by the OMEGA spectrometer instrument on board Mars Express.




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