A network of huge fractures covers Utopia Planitia – a buried impact basin measuring 2000 kilometres in the Martian Northern Lowlands, which was the destination of the United States Viking 2 lander in 1976. These surface structures, which are referred to as polygons, would suggest that there was once an ocean here.
These images, acquired by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), on board the European Mars Express spacecraft, operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), show part of the Meridiani Planum region.
With a length of 600 kilometres and a depth of up to two kilometres, Mawrth Vallis is one of the biggest valleys on Mars and a possible landing site for the ESA ExoMars and NASA Mars 2020 missions. It is entrenched in the Arabia Terra highland, which is more than four billion years old, and ends in the great Chryse Planitia lowland region.
These images, acquired by the High Resolution Stereo Camera operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) on board the European Mars Express spacecraft show a part of the Noachis Terra region in the southern highlands of Mars. The crater shown is approximately four kilometres deep and has a diameter of roughly 50 kilometres.
The images presented here, acquired by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) on board the European Space Agency (ESA) Mars Express spacecraft, show part of the Memnonia Fossae region on Mars.
A diameter of 2200 kilometres and a depth of up to nine kilometres: these are the dimensions of the largest impact crater on Mars – Hellas. Only the Moon's South Pole-Aitken Basin and the Valhalla structure on Jupiter's moon, Callisto, have a similar size.
When looking at the large-scale topography along the equator of Mars, what truly stands out are the many, extremely wide drainage channels leading north without many lateral inflows. The smaller valley systems are not so noticeable in these images. They often have multiple branches and meander across the terrain. Such valley systems can be found on Earth. Arda Valles in the Martian highlands is a good example of such a drainage system.
Directly to the west of the gigantic graben system of Valles Marineris on Mars, lies a no less impressive region called Noctis Labyrinthus – the Labyrinth of the Night. It consists of a labyrinth of intersecting valleys and canyons up to six kilometres deep. Extending over 1200 kilometres east to west, it is almost the same length as the River Rhine.
One of the most striking features of a global view of Mars is the dichotomy between the topographically diverse highlands in the southern hemisphere and the flat, expansive lowland plains of its northern counterpart. Many landscape features shaped by erosion can be observed in the transitional zone between the highlands and lowlands, which explains the particular geological interest in this region.
The latest images acquired by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) on board the European Space Agency (ESA) Mars Express spacecraft, show a runout of the Aurorae Chaos region – an eastern continuation of the massive Valles Marineris graben system on Mars.
During Mars' geological 'Middle Ages' – the Hesperian Period – which began 3.7 billion years ago and lasted until approximately 3.1 billion years ago, strong volcanic activity was present on our neighbouring planet. Volcanoes spewed low viscosity lava that poured out in masses over the surface and gave rise to extensive plains.
"In your face, Neil Armstrong!" – as he says these words, NASA astronaut Mark Watney senses for the first time that he might have only a very small chance of getting out of his predicament alive. Watney is 'The Martian' in the film of the same name (release date in Germany: 8 October) who, in a not too distant future, finds himself stranded on the Red Planet.
The primary task of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft is to acquire high-resolution image data for the mapping of Mars. For this purpose, the optical system is normally directed perpendicular to the surface of the planet.
Countless myths have been woven around the legendary realm of Atlantis. Circa 350 BC, the philosopher Plato depicted a maritime power situated in Atlantis that controlled broad areas of Europe and Africa. It was most likely an island whose inhabitants ruled over the people living in the multiple regions bordering the Mediterranean.
Geology is a fairly young science when compared with physics, mathematics or astronomy. Emerging from the quest for natural resources and ores, it developed into an independent field of research only in the last few centuries.
Today, Mars appears bone-dry and dusty – but new analyses of Istok crater provide evidence of periodic flows of debris from its walls into its interior. "What is surprising is that it must have happened reasonably often," explains Ernst Hauber, a planetary researcher at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).
At present, the Siloe Patera construct in the Martian highlands is the cause of much debate among scientists. Is Siloe Patera actually the remains of a supervolcano? There is evidence to suggest this – but also evidence against it. It is a current example of an interesting geoscientific debate.
On our neighbouring planet Mars, it is mainly wind – through its force and the dust and sand particles it carries – that shapes the terrain structures, wearing them away over the course of millions of years.
Previously, images of Mars were available in strip format – strip by strip carefully flown with the European Mars Express spacecraft and processed into three-dimensional terrain models and perspective images. Now, planetary scientists, under the leadership of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have, for the first time, joined these individual 50 to 100 kilometre wide strips to create a single large-scale map.
These images, acquired by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, show a region close to Cydonia Mensae in the northern hemisphere of Mars.