Martian Surface Features - Worksheets
- What is Mars' orbital period? What is the tilt of its
rotation axis? What is the radius of Mars? What is the
escape velocity from the planet (in km/s) and how does it
complare to the Earth?
- What does the word "albedo" mean? Explain the
correlation between albedo features and terrain on the
- What do the red lines on the topographic map represent?
Note: Please write in complete paragraphs where
Step 1: Large Scale Features
- Which is older, the plains or the cratered terrain found
mostly in the southern hemisphere? How can you tell?
- What are the names and approximate coordinates of the two
most obvious volcanic regions?
- What evidence do you see for large impacts on Mars? Give
names and coordinates.
- What probably caused the huge plains regions primarily
found in the northern hemisphere?
- Is there any easily identifiable correlation between the
albedo features and any particular kind of terrain (e.g.
are cratered regions characteristically lighter or darker
than plains regions, etc.)?
- Do you see any evidence on the map for large scale
erosion by wind or water? Where, and by wind, water, or
both? (Hint: look at 25° S, 245° W)
- Using a ruler and the scaling information accompanying
the map, estimate the sizes and range in altitude of each
of the following features:
1 - Sizes of Prominent Martian Surface Features
NOTE: For comparison, the Grand
Canyon is about 150 km long, 6 to 28 km wide, and at most
2 km deep while the peak of Mt. Everest is about 8.8 km
above sea level.
- Compare the appearance, relative height and relation to
nearby regions of the Viking 1 (22.5° N, 48° W) and
Viking 2 (48° N, 226° W) landing sites from their
appearance on the map.
Step 2: Analysis of Surface Features in Mariner 9 Photographs
- Volcanic Features (MTVS 4142-93, 4184-84,4298-47, IPL
From the evidence, deduce how the Martian volcanoes and
the surrounding plains were formed.
- Although these volcanoes are relatively
"fresh" looking, what evidence do you
see for the proposition that, in reality, these
volcanoes are quite old?
- From your previous measurements of Olympus Mons
and Ascraeus Mons, we can see that the Martian
volcanoes are huge and very broad by comparison
to their earthly counterparts (remember, they're
on a planet half the size of Earth!). What might
be the reason Mars' volcanoes are so large?
- With regard to the map, what can be said about
the general elevation of the plains areas
surrounding the volcanoes? What might cause this?
- What might be the significance of multiple
calderas on some of the summits?
- Valles Marineris (MTVS 4187-45, 4191-45, 4144-87, IPL
Consider the processes which may have led to the
formation of Valles Marineris.
- Describe two processes which may have formed the
Valles Marineris. This is your first guess. The
following questions will help you decide which is
- The first photo shows a close-up of the section
of chaotic terrain at the western end of Valles
Marineris. The other photos show sections of the
canyon system itself. Discuss the changes in
altitude of the feature from Noctis Labyrinthus
on the west to Chryse Planitia on the north-east.
- Given your observations in the previous question,
what might have caused the chaotic terrain?
- What evidence do you see for aeolian or fluvial
erosion in the canyon itself?
- What can be said about the age of this feature
relative to the surrounding plains and how did
you reach this conclusion? Remember to consider
the scale as you compare the map to the Mariner 9
- Estimate how far the crater chains extend. Were
the chains more likely to have formed from a
fragmented meteor or from outgassing along an
- Briefly discuss what may have originally formed
Valles Marineris and what subsequent changes have
probably taken place to give it its present
- Polar Layered Terrain (MTVS 4213-21, 4247-7)
Consider what is responsible for the layered terrain
surrounding the poles of Mars.
- From inspection of the map, describe the
appearance of the south polar region in relation
to the surrounding area.
- Thinking in terms of the seasonal changes Mars
undergoes, what do you think might have caused
the layered terrain?
- Cratered Terrain (MTVS 4212-66, 4287-24, IPL 1651/154245,
Consider the history of the cratered regions.
- MTVS 4287-24 shows a section of relatively
unmodified cratered terrain. Using the
coordinates given on the photo, identify some of
the features in this image (including the
"doublet" craters referenced in the
caption) on the map. Assuming the diameter given
for the large crater, estimate the diameters of
the doublet craters. From this and the apparent
size of these craters on the map, what would you
estimate the size of the smallest craters on the
map to be? Show your work!
- Locate the positions of the two IPL images on the
map. Where are these features located relative to
the plains and cratered regions?
- In IPL 7350/165312, what would you guess to be
the relative ages of the fretted and the cratered
terrain? Why? What do you think caused the
- In IPL 1651/154245, there are again fretted
terrain and craters. What appears to be the
relative ages of the features in this photograph?
Is this consistent with what you found above? If
not, why might they be different?
- Channels (MTVS 4294-12, 4294-16, 4294-20)
Consider the evolutionary history of this feature.
- There are a number of channels (not canals!) or
channel-like features on Mars. The three photos
here show a section of one such channel and fit
together in a mosaic form as described in the
caption. Find the location of this feature on the
map and describe its location relative to other
- Given its location, what might have formed this
- Describe the appearance of this feature. What
evidence can you see for fluvial erosion? In your
estimation, could this feature have been formed
by wind or lava flows? Explain.
Write a brief (½ page) summary of what you have learned about
the large scale surface features of Mars from the investigation
of Mariner 9 images. Discuss the relative importance of plate
tectonics, volcanism and erosion processes on the Martain