Mars has never looked cooler than it does in this new ESA video showcasing Mawrth Vallis, a ravine that once carried water for hundreds of miles.
Mawrth Vallis (“Mawrth” is Welsh for Mars) is a 370 mile (600 km) long, 1.2 mile (2 km) deep ravine along the boundary that separates the southern highlands and northern lowlands of Mars. A new video based on images taken by the ESA’s Mars Express shows what it would be like to take a trip over this once-mighty water channel.
The journey begins at the mouth of a four billion year-old outflow channel, and heads towards the source of this impressive Martian scar, an area known as the Arabia Terra highlands.
The crater-covered plateau is peppered with light and dark deposits, the lightest of which contain chunks of clay minerals called phyllosilicates. These layered sediments indicates the presence of liquid water in the past — and possibly traces of ancient life.
Indeed, the presence of these deposits, and the water-bearing minerals buried within, could contain a record of an ancient, habitable environment on Mars. And in fact, Mawrth Vallis is a candidate site for the ExoMars 2020 mission. Watching this video, and seeing how cool this region actually is, let’s hope the mission planners choose this site. [ESA]