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Martian Global Geography - Windows to the Universe

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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.
This map shows a portion of the surface of Mars.
Click on image for full size
Image from: NASA

Martian Global Geography

The surface of Mars consists of highlands and lowlands. The highlands are in the southern hemisphere (the bottom of the figure), and the lowlands are in the northern hemisphere of Mars (top of the figure). The lowlands contain the Tharsis Ridge, where many of the largest volcanoes of Mars are located. Next to the Tharsis Ridge is Valles Marineris, a very long canyon of Mars. The high resolution topographic map, which can be viewed by clicking on the image to the left, shows these regions in better detail. Measurements returned by Mars Global surveyor demonstrate the severe height difference between these two regions of Mars.

The highlands have tons of craters. They are the oldest portion of Mars. The lowlands are younger and so do not contain as many craters as the highlands.

Not seen clearly in this image are the Martian polar caps. Besides ice, the southern polar region of Mars contains other interesting geologic features such as layered terrain and giant sanddunes. This region was suppose to be explored by the Mars '98 mission.

Last modified April 27, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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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