"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean... Recently, we've managed to wade a little way out, and the water seems inviting." - Carl Sagan
At the mouth of the red valley
ESA’s Mars Express took a high-resolution stereo image on 13 January of the southeast corner of the Amenthes Planum region on Mars, near to Palos crater and the mouth of a well-known sinuous valley, Tinto Vallis.
At the bottom-centre of the full-colour image above is a nearby shorter and wider valley, which is fed by a number of tributaries before it joins the mouth of Tinto Vallis as both empty into Palos crater, just off the bottom of the image.
The network of shorter valleys is thought to have formed through volcanic activity melting subsurface ice and liberating water to the martian surface via seeps and springs.
Another eye-catching feature is the relatively deep 35 km-wide crater seen in the left-hand portion of the image. Spectacular landslides along the crater’s walls can be seen and are particularly evident along the broken southern (left) rim.
The darker regions to the far north and south are covered in wind-transported basaltic sands. The smooth low-lying region to the far right is a small trough that feeds into the broader lava field of Amenthes Planum. The trough has likely been modified by the outflow of material from the ancient lake that may have once existed in Palos crater, the rim of which can only just be seen at the bottom of the image.
Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)