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Westernmost Valles Marineris canyons (Noctis Labyrinthus) as seen from Mars orbit; terrestrial planet; telluric planet; rocky planet - Space Art Illustration

Westernmost Valles Marineris

Mars' Valles Marineris is host to the largest canyons in the Solar System. The canyons are as long as the United States is wide with some parts five times deeper than the Earth's Grand Canyon.

This image is looking west over complex of canyons known as the Noctis Labyrinthus. Further west on the horizon are three large volcanoes known collectively as the Tharsis Montes. Though each volcano towers 9 miles above the plains, from this orbital perspective they appear as mere bumps. From left to right the volcanoes are Arsia Mons, Pavonis Mons and Ascraeus Mons. 


What's in a name?

Valles Marineris  (Latin for Mariner Valley) was named by the NASA Mariner 9 spacecraft team whose unmanned probe returned the first close-up views of the Martian surface in 1971. The valley's name was Latinized in keeping with a tradition started a century earlier by Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli.

Noctis Labyrinthus is Latin for "the Labyrinth of the Night."

Tharsis Montes is Latin for "the Tharsis Mountains." Tharsis comes from the Bible and refers to a land at the western extremity of the known world.

This rendering is based upon elevation data from NASA's Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter.

Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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