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Exploratour - The Surface of Mars

A representation of the Tharsis Ridge, showing the altitude of the volcanoes compared to the surrounding areas. The elevated southern hemisphere is also shown. From Mars Global Surveyor.
Click on image for full size
NASA/JPL

Continents on Mars

The most obvious features of the surface of Mars, as shown in the picture to the left, are the two regions which seem elevated above the rest of the crust. The most obvious is a large elevated region in the lower half of the planet. This region is called the Highlands. The rest of the surface is called Lowlands. The highlands resemble a terrestrial continent.

The other one is a smaller, island-shaped feature, known as the Tharsis Ridge. It is also as large as a small continent on Earth, or perhaps a large, volcanic island. These two features may be the "continents of Mars". More study is needed, however, to determine if these regions are indeed composed of continental crust similar to what we have on Earth.

Near the middle of the highlands near the south pole, is a very deep area called the Hellas Basin (colored blue on this map). It is deeper than the Challenger Deep, which is the deepest spot on Earth.

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