Seen from Mars’ orbit, they form a bizarre, chaotic pattern on the planet’s surface – hundreds of isolated mountains up to 2,000 meters high. Planetary geologists refer to the weird features as ‘chaotic terrain.’
Such terrains are found over a large area to both the west and east of Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the entire solar system. Hydraotes Chaos, showcased in this video, is a typical example of this type of landscape.
The data used to generate these images and the simulated flyover were acquired with the High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA’s Mars Express orbiter.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.