This interactive lets you search for features in the canyon. Look at each thumbnail, then find it and click on it in the larger image.

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About the images

This activity uses two images of Valles Marineris. The first combines images taken in the 1970s by the Viking orbiters and in the 1990s by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) orbiter. The Viking orbiters took color images. MGS takes higher resolution images, but they're black and white. This image combines both to create a high resolution, color image.

The second is colored based on its elevation: blue is lower, green or yellow is higher. The elevation image was created using data from the Mars Orbiting Laser Altimeter (MOLA) onboard MGS. MOLA bounces a laser off the surface of the planet, then times how long it takes for the beam to return to the spacecraft. From that it can calculate its distance from the surface to an accuracy of a little over a foot. MOLA does this over and over as it orbits, eventually building up enough data for a global elevation map of the entire planet.

If you're looking for features that vary in elevation (like flood channels), this kind of map can make them much easier to see.


More like this

You can play with this same interactive for other parts of this site as well:

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Viking Orbiters at JPL

Mars Global Surveyor at JPL

MOLA at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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