Of course, there are no cats living on the Red Planet, so these cats appeared in a different way. but how?

space picture of the week by Mars Express It shows one of the many fossils on the surface of Mars. These are long and wide canyons, the length of which reaches from hundreds to thousands of kilometers. There are 56 such troughs on this rocky planet. The image from the European spacecraft shows details of the region we call Tantalus Fossae, named after the son of Zeus and Pluto. This is certainly not the largest crater on the Red Planet. This honor goes to Sirenum Fossae. Sirenum Fossae has a total length of 2,735 kilometers, or the distance from Dublin to Moscow.

Click on the image to view a larger version.

How is the hole formed?
The crater forms when the crust of the planet expands. Eventually, the surface breaks, resulting in a long and narrow depression. The fossils of Tantalus Fossae were created by the nearby volcano Alba Mons. This is the largest shield volcano in our solar system with a diameter of 1,600 km. It’s not the highest shield volcano, because that honor goes to him Olympus Mons† As the volcano grew, the surface around Alba Mons deformed and eventually cracked. We also see this crater on the other side of the volcano. The excavations around Alba Mons are up to a thousand kilometers long, up to ten kilometers wide, and up to 350 meters deep.

Fossils surround the neighboring shield volcano Alba Patera. The larger white box shows the Mars Express region imaged on July 19, 2021 during its 22173 orbit. The satellite image of the week is a crop of this large image (the smaller white frame).

Mars is not the only planet with this crater. 34 holes have been found on Venus. Fossils have also been observed on Mercury, Enceladus (Saturn’s moon), Ganymede (Jupiter’s moon) and Triton (Neptune’s moon).

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Traces too small and too large
In the photo we also see a large impact crater. If you look closely, you can see the hole lines continuing into the hole. This means that this crater was formed before the crater and is therefore older. The slightly smaller crater arose in the lower right just after the crater.

Ten years of March Express
Next month, it will be nineteen years since ESA launched the Mars Express spacecraft. The probe was dedicated to studying the atmosphere and climate of the Red Planet. The scientists also wanted to use the orbiter to learn more about Mars’ structure, mineralogy, and geology. And if possible, the Mars Express also had to look for traces of water. Many of these goals Already achieved† It doesn’t look like Mars Express will be retiring anytime soon, so next year we hope to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this powerful station.

Over the past decades, space telescopes and satellites have captured beautiful images of nebulae, galaxies, stellar nurseries, and planets. Every weekend we remove one or more great space images from our archives. Enjoy all the pictures? check it out on this page