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This image shows the landing site for the Mars Pathfinder mission.
Click on image for full size
Image from: NASA/JPL

Ares Vallis

Mars Pathfinder touched down in what appeared to be the remnants of a catastrophic flood. Thus, scientists had the opportunity to study the remains of what is thought to be a surface created by flowing water.

A map of the region, shown here, shows what are called the Ares and Tiu outflow valleys. (An outflow valley is one form of channel created by a catastrophic flood). Ares is the Greek name of the god of War, also called Mars by the Romans. Read about the god Ares below). These are to be found on the north-eastern edge of Xanthe Terra (check the large topographic map of Mars). Channels are visible throughout the scene, and may indicate a great deal of drainage in the region. The two main channels seem to b e examples of "straight" channels, rather than meandering river channels. This may mean that during the flood, the water came gushing directly out of the ground. The image also shows many tear-dropped shaped tails around craters in the area, indicating the possibility of much fluvial activity in the past.

On the web page linked in at the bottom of this page one may create one's own map of the region and see the relationship of the Mars Pathfinder landing site to Xanthe Terra, and its outflow channels. Connecting to this web-site is recommended. Once linked, a map is shown which shows the Mars Pathfinder landing site. Click on the landing site location and create your own map. Then use the (-) button to zoom out and view the landing site from a greater distance. Use of this site will demonstrate that the landing site was selected as a potential depositional plain.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF