Mosaic of the Valles Marineris hemisphere of Mars composed of 102 Viking Orbiter images of this huge feature on the Red Planet.
Credit: NASA, USGS, Viking Project

 

 

 

There is movement in Mars exploration circles that see Valles Marineris as a “tell all” place, ripe for human exploration that can uncover the planet’s history and its capacity to sustain microbial life.

 

 

 

 

 

Noctis Landing on Mars is an ostensibly flat transitional region between Noctis Labyrinthus and Valles Marineris proper.
Credit: Pascal Lee

 

 

 

That said, how best to investigate the multifaceted geology in evidence at this site? Can future crews on the Red Planet dive safely into this huge canyon system? And what awaits those probing a vast region that’s been branded as the Grand Canyon of Mars?

For a deep dive into this amazing feature, go to my new Space.com story – “How can astronauts explore Mars’ Grand Canyon, Valles Marineris” – at:

https://www.space.com/mars-grand-canyon-valles-marineris-exploration

 

In the tool kit: Astronauts working on the surface of Mars could employ a helicopter (airborne at left) similar to the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.
Credit: NASA

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