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The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.

Exploratour - Comparing the Surfaces of Earth and Mars

Continents

The table below presents a comparison of continents on Earth and Mars.

Earth


A mercator projection of the Earth's crust showing the continents as well as undersea topography.
Click on image for full size (630K GIF)
Map courtesy of the National Geographic Data Center/ U.S.G.S.

There are seven land masses on Earth called continents. Continents are landmasses that are raised above the rest of the crust because the material they are composed of is less dense. On Earth, the continents lie an average of 4.6 km above the ocean floor. The Earth's continents (from largest to smallest) are Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.

Mars


Two views of the surface of Mars. The upper image is dominated by the Highlands, while the lower image highlights the Tharsis Ridge.
Click on image for full size version (160K GIF)
Image from Mars Global Surveyor, NASA/JPL

There are the two regions on Mars which seem to be elevated above the rest of the crust. The first is a large elevated region in the lower half of the planet known as the Highlands (dominating the upper image). The other raised feature is known as the Tharsis Ridge or Bulge (lower image). It is the size of a small continent on Earth, or perhaps a large, volcanic island. These two features may be thought of as the continents of Mars.

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Even though the sleeping man is no longer on the bed, you can still see where he was lying down. The heat from his body warmed up the bed sheets which are now radiating infrared light toward your eyes....more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

All warm objects radiate in the infrared. The warmer the object, the higher the frequency and intensity of the radiation. Very hot objects give off other types of radiation in addition to infrared. Click...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Your eye is a wonderful detector of visible light. Different frequencies of light produce different sensations in the eye which we interpret as colors. Our eyes detect light by using light sensitive components...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Imagine you found a pair of special glasses that not only gave you telescopic vision but gave you the ability to see all forms of radiant energy. The universe in visible light contains all the familiar...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a volcano on the island of Miyake in Japan. It has erupted, sending hot lava and ash into the air, a total of ten times. The time after one eruption until the next occurred was about twenty years...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

The awesome power of a giant black hole was revealed by looking at this galaxy in three different types of light. The picture that you see is of Centaurus A, a very peculiar galaxy. A galaxy is just a...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a plant in Gary, Indiana where power is made. We use power to run things like television sets, radios, lights, and microwave ovens. The picture looks very strange because it was taken in infrared....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA