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This graph illustrates one way in which the altimeter instrument studies the planet.
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Image from: NASA/JPL

Mars Global Surveyor Measures Martian Global Hemispheres

Mars Global Surveyor carries an instrument which measures the heights of things. This instrument is called an altimeter, or "altitude-meter".

The picture to the left shows Mars Global Surveyor's measurement of the giant bluff which separates the southern and northern hemispheres of Mars. The red line shows the lower, northern plains, then the abrupt bluff which separates the northern plains from the highlands of the south. The height of the bluff is shown in both kilometers and in miles. It can be seen from the picture that the southern hemisphere as a whole is much more elevated than the northern hemisphere. The southern hemisphere is also much older than the nothern hemisphere. The different sizes of the two hemispheres is suggestive that Mars has a giant southern continent. More about the peculiar surface of Mars can be found in the discussion of the Martian global surface. A nice picture of the giant, continent sized southern hemisphere can be found in the discussion of the Tharsis Ridge.


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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