India's Mars orbiter has sent home beautiful high-res, 3D images of the surface of Mars, and they make you feel like you're flying right above the Red Planet. The photographs focus on the Ophir Chasma, a giant canyon on Mars that's 62 km (38.5 miles) wide and 317 km (197 miles) long. In places, the canyon is 8 to 10 km (4.9 to 6.3 miles) deep - roughly eight times deeper than the North America's Grand Canyon.

Ophir Chasma is part of Mars's famous rift system, Valles Marineris. Appearing like a giant scar across the equator of Mars, Valles Marineris is one of the Solar System's largest canyons, and although we've always seen it from afar in satellite and orbiter images, humans have never had the chance to see it like this before.

These images were taken by the Mars Colour Camera on board India's orbiter on 19 July 2015, at an altitude of 1,857 km. The Mars Orbiter, which is also known as Mangalyaan (that means "Mars-craft" in Sanskrit) was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in 2013, and entered orbit in September last year

Not only was India the first country to enter Mars's orbit on its first attempt (pretty impressive, considering half of all missions to Mars fail), but it was also the cheapest mission ever to be sent to Mars, costing just US$74 million - far cheaper than the US$100 million spent on making the film Gravity, and less than one-sixth of the price of Nasa's Mars orbiter mission.

And now Mangalyaan has sent us back these truly incredible photos of the Red Planet, just to make us love it even more. Seriously guys, let's get humans to Mars asap, because we just can't wait to join our favourite rover and explore these canyons and valleys IRL.


Picture2 webISRO