The surface of Mars showed in the highest resolution

A photograph taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on the Mars Express Orbiter shows parts of

huge volcanic plateau Thaumasia Planum.The height of the highest sites - from 4,500 m. Scientists believe that they have changed little since they formed almost four billion years ago. Thus, from the picture you can understand how Mars looked in the first days after the formation of the planet.

Scientists believe that the plateau is formed asdeformation of the planetary crust, and water flows in the past. Although Mars no longer shows signs of active tectonics, this was not always the case. It also caused surface cracks, known today as Nectaris Fossae. They are visible as almost vertical scars in the center of the image and have since been filled with light dust.

Mars area map. Credit: European Space Agency

Also in the photo you can see Protva Valles. These "valleys" formed when there was much more water on the surface of Mars, about 3.8 billion years ago, and have hardly changed since then.

Topography of Nectaris Fossae and Protva Valles. The ground resolution is approximately 23 m/pixel, one of the highest available today. Credit: European Space Agency

"Mars-express" - operating automaticinterplanetary station of the European Space Agency, designed to study Mars. The spacecraft consisted of an orbital station - an artificial satellite of Mars - and a descent vehicle with an automatic Martian station Beagle-2.

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Full resolution photo - on the ESA website