Noctis Labyrinthus is a network of canyons the length of Italy that is located between two record-breaking regions on Mars. It is the beginning of Valles Marineris, one of the longest canyons in the Solar System. On its other side, there is the Tharsis Bulge, a region home to the tallest volcanoes we know of. And all three are connected.
As the Tharsis grew, it lifted the crust around it. The outer shell of Mars cracked under this uplift, creating the Noctis Labyrinthus, and as it expands eastward, it might be responsible for the long rift valley that is Valles Marineris. The Noctis Labyrinthus is at the heart of the Tharsis Rise. Research suggests that until recent geological times, the area had flowing lava and water lakes that might have had the right conditions to host life.
The criss-cross pattern of canyons is, in places, 30 kilometers (18 miles) long and 6 kilometers (3.6 miles) deep. Landslides, graben, and even large dune fields are found across the plateaus, the original surface level before the formation of Tharsis.
The incredible 3D rendering was created by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission. The orbiter has been going around Mars since 2003 and its High Resolution Stereo Camera has delivered incredible new views of the Red Planet.