Beautiful streamlined islands and narrow gorges were carved by fast-flowing water pounding through a small, plateau region near the southeastern margin of the vast Vallis Marineris canyon system.
Images captured on 7 December 2013 by ESA’s Mars Express show the central portion of Osuga Valles, which has a total length of 164 km. It is some 170 km south of Eos Chaos, which lies in the far eastern section of Valles Marineris.
Osuga Valles is an outflow channel that emanates from a region of chaotic terrain at the edge of Eos Chaos to the west (top in the main images). Such landscape is dominated by randomly oriented and heavily eroded blocks of terrain. Another example is seen at the bottom of this scene, filling the 2.5 km-deep depression into which Osuga Valles empties.
A research project led by Joseph R. Michalski, Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, has identified what could be a supervolcano on Mars – the first discovery of its kind. In a paper published Oct. 3 in the journal Nature, Michalski and co-author Jacob E. Bleacher of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center describe a new type of volcanic construction on Mars that until now has gone unrecognized.
The volcano in question, a vast circular basin on the face of the Red Planet, previously had been classified as an impact crater. Researchers now suggest the basin is actually the remains of an ancient supervolcano eruption. Their assessment is based on images and topographic data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey, Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, as well as the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter.
“On Mars, young volcanoes have a very distinctive appearance that allows us to identify them,” Michalski said. “The long-standing question has been what ancient volcanoes on Mars look like. Perhaps they look like this one.”
New global maps of Mars released on the 10th anniversary of the launch of ESA’s Mars Express trace the history of water and volcanic activity on the Red Planet, and identify sites of special interest for the next generation of Mars explorers.
The unique atlas comprises a series of maps showing the distribution of minerals formed in water, by volcanic activity, and by weathering to create the dust that makes Mars red. They create a global context for the dominant geological processes that sculpted the planet we see today.
The maps were built from ten years of data collected by the OMEGA mineralogical mapper on Mars Express, which determines the mineral composition of the martian surface by analysing the spectrum of reflected sunlight.
“The history of Mars is encoded in its minerals,” says Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.
Full Story: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Ten_years_at_Mars_new_global_views_plot_the_Red_Planet_s_history
ESA’s Mars Express imaged the striking upper part of the Reull Vallis region of Mars with its high-resolution stereo camera last year.
Reull Vallis, the river-like structure in these images, is believed to have formed when running water flowed in the distant martian past, cutting a steep-sided channel through the Promethei Terra Highlands before running on towards the floor of the vast Hellas basin.
This sinuous structure, which stretches for almost 1500 km across the martian landscape, is flanked by numerous tributaries, one of which can be clearly seen cutting in to the main valley towards the upper (north) side.
The new Mars Express images show a region of Reull Vallis at a point where the channel is almost 7 km wide and 300 m deep.
The high-resolution stereo camera on ESA’s Mars Express imaged the Charitum Montes region of the Red Planet on 18 June, near to Gale crater and the Argyre basin featured in our October and November image releases.
The brighter features, giving the image an ethereal winter-like feel in the colour images, are surfaces covered with seasonal carbon dioxide frost.
Charitum Montes are a large group of rugged mountains extending over almost 1000 km and bounding the southernmost rim of the Argyre impact basin.
They can be seen from Earth through larger telescope and were named by Eugène Michel Antoniadi (1870–1944) in his 1929 work La Planète Mars.
On 6 June, the high-resolution stereo camera on ESA’s Mars Express revisited the Argyre basin as featured in our October release, but this time aiming at Nereidum Montes, some 380 km northeast of Hooke crater.
The stunning rugged terrain of Nereidum Montes marks the far northern extent of Argyre, one of the largest impact basins on Mars. Nereidum Montes stretches almost 1150 km and was named by the noted Greek astronomer Eugène Michel Antoniadi (1870–1944).
Based on his extensive observations of Mars, Antoniadi famously concluded that the ‘canals’ on Mars reported by Percival Lowell were, in fact, just an optical illusion.
The images captured by Mars Express show a portion of the region, displaying multiple fluvial, glacial and wind-driven features.
Despite more than a century of observations, the orbit of the Martian moon Deimos is still not known to a high degree of accuracy, but a new study using images taken by ESA’s Mars Express orbiter has provided the best orbital model to date.
135 years have passed since Asaph Hall discovered Phobos and Deimos, two small companions of the planet Mars. Since that time, the satellites have been imaged innumerable times from the Earth and from spacecraft, including recent measurements by the panoramic cameras on the Mars Exploration Rovers and instruments on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.