Tithonium Chasma is a grand canyon. It is 810 kilometers (503 miles) long, which is shocking and is a large part of Valles Marineris-we know the largest canyon system in the entire solar system.
In 2013, the high-resolution imaging science experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took a close-up photo of this fault. The image is only a HiRISE picture of that day.
The image shows about one kilometer (0.6 miles) around the Martian terrain, where there are winding hills and valleys, but as you can see in other images, when you start to zoom out, this is only a small part of the huge whole .
But how did it get there? The Grand Canyon on Earth is five times shallower and ten times shorter than the Colorado Water Valley, and is carved by the Colorado River.
But scientists are not sure what formed the Valles Marineris and Tithonium Chasma 8 to 10 kilometers (5 to 6.2 miles) deep, so they have been taking pictures to find answers.
We know that the inclination of the Martian axis (called the inclination angle) is not as stable as the Earth. In ancient times, it ranged from 60 degrees to less than 10 degrees.
HiRISE spokesperson Edwin Kite wrote in 2014: “Although it is unconfirmed, a higher inclination may cause some of the Martian water ice to melt.”
“Our best chance to understand this is to find piles of ice, dust, silt or sand that have accumulated during many cycles of tilt change.”
The Tithonium Chasma image above shows these findings. The sediment layer-dark and light stripes extending diagonally in the middle of the image-is relatively uniform and may show the gradual accumulation of sediment during many long periods of this axial tilt change.
Even seven years after taking this photo, we are still not sure what caused Valles Marineris. Some researchers suspect that a large structural “crack” may crack the surface of Mars, which may then be strengthened by lava flow or if the planet’s axial tilt is just right.
But, indeed, although these images are scientifically interesting to astronomers, they are also beautiful.
The amazing scale of these crests and troughs captured by a spacecraft 264 kilometers (163.8 miles) from the Earth’s surface cannot be underestimated.
You can see more pictures of Valles Marineris here.