Washington: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has returned a stunning picture of Ophir Chasma on the Red Planet.
The spectacular Ophir Chasma image, acquired on August 10, 2015, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, features a small part of its wall and floor.
According to NASA, the wall rock shows many sedimentary layers and the floor is covered with wind-blown ridges, which are intermediate in size between sand ripples and sand dunes. Rocks protruding on the floor could be volcanic intrusions of once-molten magma that pushed aside the surrounding sedimentary layers and “froze” in place.
Images like this can help geologists study the formation mechanisms of large tectonic systems like Valles Marineris. (The word “tectonics” does not mean the same thing as “plate tectonics.” Tectonics simply refers to large stresses and strains in a planet’s crust. Plate tectonics is the main type of tectonics that Earth has; Mars does not have plate tectonics.)
Ophir Chasma, a northern part of the Valles Marineris canyon, is about 317 km long and was named after Ophir, a land mentioned in the Bible.