Mars is a dry desert world today, but there continue to be abundant signs that it once had flowing water on its surface. The images on this page – released by the European Space Agency (ESA) today (June 6, 2013), in celebration of the Mars Express spacecraft launch 10 years ago this week – show a region on Mars known as Kasei Valles, named for the word “Mars” in Japanese. It is an ancient flood plain on Mars, a huge system nearly 500 kilometers (300 miles) wide in some places. In contrast, the Grand Canyon in Arizona is only about 30 kilometers (18 miles) wide.
The first image is a mosaic, comprised of 67 images taken with the high-resolution stereo camera carried by Mars Express. Space scientists believe that dramatic flood events carved this impressive channel system on Mars. The second image is a perspective view of this amazing and beautiful place, surely a place you would want to check out if you could personally visit the planet next door.
Bottom line: The European Space Agency today released two new images of Kasei Valles on Mars, an ancient and vast flood plain. ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, launched 10 years ago this week, acquired them.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.