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Travel Goals For 2041: The Valles Marineris Canyon on Mars

The grandest canyon in the entire solar system.
IMAGE NASA/JPL/UArizona/HiRISE Operations Center
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One day, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and NASA will herald the human race’s great space exploration, with Mars being our first planetary stop. There’s already a deadline for the first manned mission to Mars: 2030. After that, it’ll still be years before a commercial spaceflight will make it there with the first Martian tourists.

But when that day comes, the first place we want to see on Mars? The Valles Marineris, otherwise known as the Grand Canyon of Mars and widely believed to be the largest canyon in the solar system.

Photo by NASA/JPL/UArizona/HiRISE Operations Center.

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera installed in the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter managed to capture stunning landscapes from the 2,500-mile-long canyon. To put that giant figure into perspective, that’s about the distance between New York and the San Francisco. Not only is it long enough to extend coast-to-coast in the U.S.A., it’s also five times deeper, making it comparable to the depth of our great oceans.

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Quick geography recap: the Grand Canyon was formed by rivers cutting away at stone over millions of years. But Mars doesn’t have Earth’s complex water systems, leading scientists to theorize that the canyons were formed either by volcanic eruptions and lava flowing from the Pavonis Mons volcano or a large tectonic crack in Martian crust in the Tharsis region.

It makes up one-fifth of Martian of the distance around Mars and is located along the equator. In short, it’s easily the best and biggest tourist attraction on the planet—at least using our telescopes (for now).

It’ll be decades before any human will get to see it up close, but here’s to hoping we’ll all still be around when that great day comes.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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