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3-D map of Mars
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Courtesy of NASA

Scientists Create 3-D Map of Mars
News story originally written on May 28, 1999

With the help of the Mars Global Surveyor, scientists were able to create a detailed 3-dimensional map of Mars. The spacecraft took over 27 million measurements. The largest distance between measurements is 37 miles. Scientists say we know more about the surface of Mars than of Earth.

One interesting feature found on the red planet is a large basin big enough to swallow Mt. Everest. The basin, which is 6 miles deep and 1,300 miles across, is believed to have formed when an asteroid ran into the planet. Surrounding the basin is a sort of ring, made of material that was once in the basin.

However, the most important aspect of the map is the general differences between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The Southern Hemisphere is 3 miles higher than the Northern Hemisphere, and has many craters compared to the smooth northern half. The slope that formed between the two halves resulted in a flow of water to the upper hemisphere. The water, which may have had a volume as high as 1.2 million cubic miles, has either evaporated or been absorbed by the planet.

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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