Valles Marineris, the great canyon of Mars. This scene shows the entire canyon system, extending from Noctis Labyrinthus, the arcuate system of graben to the west, to the chaotic terrain to the east, as seen by NASA's Viking spacecraft.

A color image of Valles Marineris, the great canyon of Mars; north toward top. The scene shows the entire canyon system, over 3,000 km long and averaging 8 km deep, extending from Noctis Labyrinthus, the arcuate system of graben to the west, to the chaotic terrain to the east.

This image is a composite of Viking medium-resolution images in black and white and low-resolution images in color; Mercator projection. The image extends from latitude 0 degrees to 20 degrees S. and from longitude 45 degrees to 102.5 degrees.

The connected chasma or valleys of Valles Marineris may have formed from a combination of erosional collapse and structural activity. Layers of material in the eastern canyons might consist of carbonates deposited in ancient lakes. Huge ancient river channels began from Valles Marineris and from adjacent canyons and ran north. Many of the channels flowed north into Chryse Basin, which contains the site of the Viking 1 Lander and the future site of the Mars Pathfinder Lander.

View all Images