Mercury’s newly discovered ‘great valley’ makes the Grand Canyon look small

mercury great valley colortopo
NASA/JHUAPL/Carnegie Institution of Washington/DLR/Smithsonian Institution
Astronomers just discovered a valley on Mercury that dwarfs the Grand Canyon. At about 250 miles wide and 600 miles long, Mercury’s “great valley” would stretch between New York City, Washington D.C. and Detroit and cut into the Earth twice as deep as does the Grand Canyon.

“The scale of this valley is enormous,” University of Maryland assistant professor Laurent Montesi told Digital Trends. “We do not have anything comparable on Earth.”

Earth’s large valleys form when rivers cut through rock and the planet’s crust stretches open. Mercury’s is the result of a single crust shrinking and creasing like a crumbled napkin. “On Earth, that typically forms mountain belts,” Montesi says, “but on Mercury, you can see it did that gigantic valley.”

Mercury’s great valley is located within the Rembrandt Basin in the planet’s southern hemisphere.

Montesi and his team used stereo images from NASA’s Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft, which became the first probe to orbit Mercury in 2011. MESSENGER took measurements and images of our solar system’s smallest planet during a series of flybys, before crashing into its surface in 2015.

“The scale of it — and the fact that the faults that limit the valley are essentially one giant structure — implies that the planet was quite cold when the valley formed,” Montesi said of the recent discovery. “That’s somewhat of a surprise, considering that we have evidence for more recent activity that implies a relatively warm interior to the planets — and planets are expected to only get cooler over time.”

The researchers published a paper detailing the discovery in the journal Geophysical Research Letters last week.


Ditch the meditation app. 'Katamari Damacy Reroll' is pure gaming zen

Katamari Damacy Reroll brings the magic of the PS2 classic to Nintendo Switch and PC. With updated visuals and the same great, singular loop, Reroll stands the test of time. Katamari Damacy is the ultimate relaxation game.
Movies & TV

Lose the torrents. Here's how to watch 'Game of Thrones' online (legally)

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on TV, but unless you're a cable subscriber, finding a way to watch isn't always easy. Check out our guide on how to watch online, whether you prefer using HBO, Hulu, or Amazon.
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.