back to article Indian Mars probe beams back 3D canyon snaps

India's Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft, aka Mangalyaan, has beamed back 3D images of the Ophir Chasma, which forms part of the Red Planet's massive Valles Marineris. One of the images of the Ophir Chasma. Pic: ISRO The Ophir Chasma poses for Mangalyaan. Pic: ISRO The snaps were captured by the spacecraft's Mars Colour …

  1. Anonymous Coward

    Lost in translation

    The mission has been so consumate a success that I was motivated to visit the mission site, where halfway down, above the Gallery, is a spec sheet that says:


    Launch Vehicle: PSLV-C25

    Type of Satellite: Science & Exploration

    Manufacturer: ISRO

    Owner: ISRO

    Orbit Type: Martian


  2. Chris G

    बहुत बढ़िया Bahuta baṛhiyā

    Makes even more proud of my Indian bits.

  3. Mark 85

    Just amazing...

    Absolutely stunning pictures. Add to that the relatively low-budget that was used just raises the impressiveness bar higher.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Excellent stuff

    Quite impressive.

  5. Fraggle850

    Much of kudos to India

    Absolutely nothing fails to impress me about this mission. I think Elon Musk may have some serious competition in the near future.

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I'm impressed as well

    It's also impressive to have the mission actually get to Mars successfully, particularly on a first try.

    For whatever reason, the failure rate of missions to Mars has been extraordinarily high, to the point that "alien conspiracists" just assume the craft are being disabled. I don't assume that, but nevertheless... Venus has harsh orbital conditions (very strong sunlight), and a crushingly high-pressure, hot enough to melt lead, acidic atmosphere, and even so (after the 1960s when failure rate was almost 100%), late 1960s to present the failure rate of missions (including landers!) is only like 10%. Mars? Also near-100% failure in the early-to-mid 1960s, but late-1960s-to-present mission failure rate is still nearly 50%. So kudos on a successful mission!

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: I'm impressed as well

      I am impressed too, but let us be a bit fair about it. The first missions to Mars took place about 30 years ago. To manage it 30 years later isn't that surprising really and hardly worth mentioning as any "the first".

      I am much more impressed with the guys with an Indian background who pop up running big companies like Microsoft and Nokia and many more and that does not surprise me much at all.

      In those cases the headline could of course be "First Indian CEO at Microsoft", but that would sound silly, then again perhaps "First Brit-Educated Indian bloke" (not that bloke) might do it.

      As for "The Axe" in a later comment, I think you can rest assured GB looted India for such a long time that you should not feel looted by India during your life time. Besides I have a feeling that the foreign aid is more or less finished and India will surpass GB as an industrial country soon. No matter how he turns it, life must be sheer hell for a Brit who doesn't get it and cannot laugh at him self.

      I try to help as much as I can.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm impressed as well

        its just another turn of the wheel

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Now why isn't Mars Global Surveyor returning these sorts of images? I know they have the data.

    1. DropBear

      Not sure about what exactly MGS should / could have returned, but I for one am happy to explore the same thing in first person directly in a game - even if the data came from HiRISE instead...

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Astonishing results

    All the more so for the limited budget and (relatively) high failure rate for Mars missions.

  9. The Axe


    So UK aid to India has effectively enabled them to get their probe to Mars. Shouldn't we have asked for a little Union flag on the side of the probe, just like the EU insists for all the projects it supports.

    1. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Re: Aid?

      Sending aid to foreign countries can be a divisive subject. Would the money really be better spent within our own borders?

      There's some real poverty in India, affecting and afflicting real people. Aid directly helps in these circumstances. And, as a bonus, it indirectly helps some really, really bright people reach for the stars (well, planets - you know what I mean...).

      The whole world is arguably a better, and certainly a less ignorant, place because of the Indian space program.

      That's a Win-Win in my book. (though I'm with you on the whole "Flag" thing)

  10. Youngone Silver badge


    They are great images, and the Indians should be very pleased.

    Looking at those images raises a few questions in my head. I'd like to know what causes such large and unusual canyons on Mars. Here on Earth a canyon like that would have a river at the bottom and the question wouldn't really need to be raised, but on Mars there hasn't been any liquid water for a long time. It looks like the ground has slumped, forming the depression and steep slopes, so why would the ground slump?

    Also, to the north there are craters, which can't be terribly old, as there is enough atmosphere to erode surface features like those, in fact what looks like erosion seems to be taking place, so how old are they?

    Lots of questions and I'm sure Mars boffins will be very excited by al, the new data coming back.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Geology

      My first impression is the canyons formed on a sloping beach with medium grain size half way down the beach and finer stuff higher up. As the water level drops below the surface the sub-surface drainage from the higher levels washes away smaller grains lower down leaving unsupported coarser grains which then slump. Creating the fans of combining ravines down the slopes with steep sides and sharp edges just like we see here.

      Translating that to the Mars picture, it seems to me that there is a row of about 4 crater-like formations half way up the top ravine edge running across the picture. They have rivulets from their protruding edges down the side of their cones. So lets say there is heat around in the ground out of view at the bottom of the picture. Volcanic perhaps, impact maybe. It melts a saturated coarse grained loess ( wind blown sand filled lake? Look how very smooth the original landscape surface is!) from beneath (deep down..). The water takes up less volume than the supportive ice providing a gravity gradient towards the heating epicentre, and also much of the water evaporates in the low air-pressure and slight heating. This sustains the gravity gradient and the heat's area of influence also has time to slowly expand outward drawing in more liquid water from the ice in the surrounding land. Maybe there is also more solar energy trapped in the moister atmosphere in the growing canyons where the denser air is sheltered from the prevailing less-dense winds for a while and this helps to keep the water in the canyon bottoms slushy enough to keep flowing further away from the area of subterranean heat flux. The slump continues for quite some time and you end up with what we see.

      Interesting thought..... Is it still an active process driven by sub(terra?)nean heat flux?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Geology

      The more I look at the picture "The Ophir Chasma poses for Mangalyaan. Pic: ISRO"......

      You can clearly see the prevailing wind blows from the top-right by the down-wind tails of the craters on the plains. The four 'volcanic' craters have ejected black-stuff... some was heavy and hot and fell quite 'close' downwind and melted a deeper area than that immediately downwind of the craters themselves. Creating two parallel ravines. Every ravine slope facing into the wind that is downstream from the 'ejecting' craters has more black stuff 'caught' on it and there is more collected in the ravine bottoms, perhaps by settling induced by eddies created by the wind blowing over the transverse ridges. The 'melts' run down to the right and bottom of the picture as the ravines combine.

      A really interesting effect is at the top left end of the topmost ravine. There is a secondary super-imposed rivulet entering the 'volcano' ravine from the adjacent plain.... except that it is running from what looks like a meteorite crater in the plain straight down into the main ravine. Does this indicate that the meteor arrived after the 'volcanoes' formed the main ravine? The plain being so 'sodden' that the impact heat was sufficient to make the ground unstable in the adjacent plain and the liquid flowed into the main ravine creating the super-imposed rivulet?

      Is this 'the place' to mine water on the planet, access subterranean heat and exposed nutrient minerals, and to set up your planetary farming operations?

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