India's Mars Orbiter Sends Back Photo of 'Grand Canyon of Mars'

8-18-15 ISRO Mars Ophir Chasma
This image was taken by the Mars Orbiter Mission's Mars Color Camera over Ophir Chasma on July 19 at an altitude of 1,857 kilometers. ISRO

India's Mars orbiter has captured a close up look at the Ophir Chasma, part of a canyon on Mars's surface, in a photo released this week by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

"The word chasma has been designated by the International Astronomical Union to refer to an elongate, steepsided depression," the organization wrote on its website. "Ophir Chasma is part of the largest canyon system in the solar system known as Valles Marineris. The walls of the chasma contain many layers and the floors contain large deposits of layered materials." The image was captured by the Mars Color Camera on July 19 at an altitude of roughly 1,154 miles. NASA has called Valles Marineris "the Grand Canyon of Mars."

The detailed image comes from ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission, also known as Mangalyaan, or "Mars-craft" in Sanskrit. The mission was launched into space on November 5, 2013, and entered Mars's orbit nearly a year ago in September 2014, making India the first nation to successfully reach the planet's orbit on its maiden attempt. The mission cost $74 million, a modest sum when compared to other missions, like NASA's $670 million MAVEN mission, which also entered Mars's orbit last September.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched in 2005, has also captured images of the Valles Marineris with its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), as did the Viking orbiters in the 1970s.

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8-18-14 Mars 4
The largest canyon in the Solar System cuts a wide swath across the face of Mars. Named Valles Marineris, the grand valley extends over 3,000 kilometers long, spans as much as 600 kilometers across, and delves as much as 8 kilometers deep. By comparison, the Earth's Grand Canyon, in Arizona, is 800 kilometers long, 30 kilometers across, and 1.8 kilometers deep. This mosaic was created from over 100 images of Mars taken by Viking Orbiters in the 1970s. NASA
8-18-15 Mars 2
Among the many discoveries by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter since the mission was launched on August 12, 2005, are seasonal flows on some steep slopes. These flows have a set of characteristics consistent with shallow seeps of salty water. This July 21, 2015, image from the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera shows examples of these flows on a slope within Coprates Chasma, which is part of the grandest canyon system on Mars, Valles Marineris. The image covers an area of ground one-third of a mile wide. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
8-18-15 Mars 3
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter acquired this closeup image of a light-toned deposit in Aureum Chaos, a 368-kilometer-wide area in the eastern part of Valles Marineris, on January 15. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
8-18-15 Mars Ophir Chasma Viking 1
During its examination of Mars, the Viking 1 spacecraft returned images of Valles Marineris, a huge canyon system 5,000 kilometers, long, whose connected chasma or valleys may have formed from a combination of erosional collapse and structural activity. This synthetic oblique view shows Ophir Chasma, the northernmost one of the connected valleys of Valles Marineris. Ophir Chasma is a large west-northwest-trending trough about 100 kilometers wide. The chasma is bordered by high-walled cliffs, most likely faults, that show spur-and-gully morphology and smooth sections. The walls have been dissected by landslides forming reentrants. NASA/JPL/USGS

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India's Mars Orbiter Sends Back Photo of 'Grand Canyon of Mars' | Tech & Science