ESA’s orbiter captures a 600 km long groove on Mars

ESA's Mars Express captures Aganippe Fossa, a fascinating groove on Mars
ESA’s Mars Express captures Aganippe Fossa, a fascinating groove on Mars. (Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express orbiter has captured an uneven, roughly 600-km-long groove with steep walls on either side on Mars.

The groove, which is known as Aganippe Fossa, is located at the foot of Mars’s giant Arsia Mons volcano.

Scientists are still unsure of when and how Aganippe Fossa formed. However, they believe that it was formed due to the magma rising. The surface of Mars stretched and cracked due to the gargantuan mass of the Tharsis volcanoes, from where magma came out. 

A broad view of Aganippe Fossa, along with Arsia Mons and Olympus Mons
A broad view of Aganippe Fossa, along with Arsia Mons and Olympus Mons. (Image credit: NASA/MGS/MOLA Science Team)

The Tharsis region is the largest volcanic region on Mars, and it is the home of Mars’s most famous volcanoes, named Ascraeus Mons (Mons is the Latin word for mountain), Pavonis Mons, Arsia Mons, and Olympus Mons.

Among them, Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in our solar system, standing 22 km tall.

ESA’s Mars Express orbiter, which has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2003, captured this image during its 25189th orbit.

Since then, the orbiter has been imaging Mars’s surface, mapping its minerals, and tracing the history of water. 

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Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of

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