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Indian probe captures 3D image of vast Mars canyon

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India's space agency revealed new photos of a prominent canyon on Mars and showed that it's getting a lot out of a cheap, experimental mission. Images from the nation's Mars Orbital Mission, aka "Mangalyaan," show part of the 62 mile wide and 317 mile long Ophir Chasma canyon. On top of the photo (below) taken from an altitude of 1,857 km (1,154 miles), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) created a 3D render of the landmark (above, and bottom). The probe has already taken numerous thermal and full-color images and monitored the atmosphere and radiation levels on the red planet.

That's not bad for the cheapest Mars mission ever at $73 million. On top of that, it was launched in 2013 mainly to test orbit maneuvers, navigation and other parameters for future interplanetary missions. Any extra science it gets is a bonus, as are photos of glamorous Mars landsmarks -- and Ophir Chasma, which is part of the 3,100 mile long Valles Marineris canyon system featured on SpaceX's travel posters, definitely qualifies.

[Image credits: Indian Space Research Organization]

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