20 incredible out of this world places to visit on Mars
Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18 and the planet seems to draw all the attention lately. Here are the 20 must-visit places for future Mars tourists.
On this low plain, which is one of the smoothest on the planet, you can observe dust eddies. The length of the shadow of the dust vortex indicates that the dust plume reaches over 800 metres in height.
The Tharsis Dome
This is a large volcanic uplift approximately 5,500 km in diameter located in the western hemisphere of Mars and rises 4 to 8 km above reference (sea) level. There are a dozen notable volcanoes in this region, including the three volcanoes forming Tharsis Montes. The name Tharsis means 'the land at the western end of the known world.'
Olympus Mons volcano
Quite simply, it is both the largest volcano and the highest mountain in the Solar System. It rises to nearly 22,000 metres above the reference surface of Mars.
Noctis Labyrinthus (Labyrinth of Night)
This region 'stands out for its labyrinthine system of deep, steep-walled valleys,' commented Dr Leo Metcalfe of ESA.
'Images taken in orbit show them filled with clouds of vapor at dawn' he added.
The Valles Marineris great canyon system
This canyon system is larger than the Grand Canyon in the United States and is located near the equator of Mars.
Like Coprates Catena, this canyon is part of the Valles Marineris ensemble. It is the longest individual canyon in the system, with a width of 200 km and a length of 900 km. That's almost as long as the entire United Kingdom!
The Arsinoes Chaos canals
This chaotic terrain, which lies at the far eastern end of the Valles Marineris canyon system, is likely linked to large water-carved flow channels that started in this region and flowed north.
Matara Crater dunes
The ravines of sand dunes, like those of Matara Crater, are very active, with numerous lava flows over the past ten years. Flows generally occur in the presence of seasonal frost.
Endurance Crater at Meridiani Planum
A crater visited by the Opportunity rover from April 30 to December 13, 2004. This image shows the dune field at the bottom of the crater. You can notice that the ridges of the dunes have accumulated more dust than the sides and the flat surfaces between them.
Victoria Crater at Meridiani Planum
This crater, about 800 metres in diameter, is known for being where the Opportunity rover spent more than 14 months on Mars. Its depth is about 75 metres.
Proctor Crater at Noachis Terra
Dark areas are dunes of basalt sand, accumulated at the bottom of Proctor Crater. This crater is well into 150 km in diameter and is located in the highlands of southern Mars.
Nili Patera in Syrtis Major
This is an area of active sand migration and erosion of the landscape. In just under two terrestrial years, the dunes migrated with differences in position of a few metres in some areas and the ripples on the dune surface have undergone so many changes that it is impossible to keep track of them reliably.
Nili Fossae at Syrtis Major
This is a large fault system on the surface of Mars, rather rich in minerals. The presence of clays rich in iron and magnesium, olivine and magnesium carbonate was found there.
The Pyramids of Elysium at Elysium Planitia
These are pyramid-like hills discovered during probe Mariner 9's flight over the region in 1972. Later, other pyramidal structures were observed in the region of Cydonia Mensae, where the famous 'Face of Mars' is located.
Gale Crater at Aeolis Mensae
This is a crater of approximately 155 km in diameter, recognizable by its imposing central mound called 'Mount Sharp' before being renamed 'Aeolis Mons'.
Near the bottom of the mound, there are layers of clay minerals. Above these layers of clay, there are layers containing sulphur and oxygenated minerals. This is also where NASA's Curiosity rover landed on August 6, 2012.
The 'Martian face' at Cydonia Mensae
The Viking 1 probe flew over Mars on July 25, 1976 and took a picture of this 'face,' seen as a clue to the possible existence of a Martian civilization. In 2006, the Mars Global Surveyor took new pictures and put an end to this myth.
The famous 'face of Mars' is in fact an elongated residual relief above which a few eroded peaks follow one another. It is a perfect example of pareidolia, the tendency for humans to seek and see patterns where there are none, in this case a humanoid face.
South Polar Cap
During winter, temperatures near the North and South Poles are so low (about -125 ° C) that carbon dioxide from the atmosphere condenses as ice on the surface. In summer, it sublimates, creating powerful winds blowing up to 400 km/h at the poles. The southern polar cap was photographed on April 17, 2000 by the Mars Global Surveyor. From left to right, it measures approximately 420 km.
North Polar Cap
In the northern hemisphere, carbon dioxide in the form of ice disappears during the summer, which is not the case in the southern hemisphere where some of it remains. In this image taken by Mars Global Surveyor in May 2010, we see the ice-rich polar cap (the almost circular white area in the centre) that stretches for about 1,000 kilometres. To the right of the centre, we can see the large canyon called 'Chasma Boreale,' which seems to split the ice cap. Chasma Boreale is roughly the same length as the Grand Canyon in the United States and is 2 kilometers deep.
North Pole Crater
Polar craters are different from other Martian craters. It has a non-circular shape and houses a patch of ice while it is surrounded by terrain that has lost its ice cover. It is possible that the ice inside is protected by the shade of the walls of the crater.
Basalt sand dunes at the North Pole
The North Pole is surrounded by a vast 'sea' of basalt sand dunes. These resemble barkhans - those dunes that are typically found in desert regions on Earth in the shape of a crescent elongated in the direction of the wind.