What you're seeing are the scars left on the surface of Mars after an enormous meteorite hit the planet's surface and unleashed torrents of molten rock and boiling water.

Captured by ESA's Mars Express orbiter in 2007, these images show us perspective shots of a region of Mars known for its enormous, winding troughs that once held fast-moving water. Though a likely explanation for these troughs is water unleashed by the impact, scientists aren't entirely sure that's what happened. It's possible that these were ancient riverbeds, or a flood plain, that were already in existence when a large rock impacted the area.


According to ESA:

The region is dotted with craters and channel systems and lies at about 21°N and 126°E on the Red Planet. Named after the Greek god of fire, Hephaestus Fossae extends for more than 600 km on the western flank of Elysium Mons in the Utopia Planitia region.

The surface is mostly smooth, and is covered by several small impact craters measuring 800 to 2800 m in diameter. Smaller craters are scattered across the entire region. The left side of the image shows a large impact crater measuring 20 km in diameter. Covering an area of approximately 150 sq km, a crater of this size on Earth could harbour cities such as Bonn or Kiel. In contrast to the smaller craters, it shows a blanket of ejecta with flow forms surrounding the rim.


Below you can see the large crater in the distance, and get a better sense of how massive this zone of troughs really is. They do appear to originate mostly from the impact site.