First hiker's map of Mars

Published: Thursday 15 March 2007

Scientists using data from the High Resolution Stereo Camera experiment onboard European Satellite Agency's Mars Express spacecraft have produced the first 'hiker's maps' of Mars.

Giving detailed height contours and names of geological features in the Iani Chaos region in the planet, the maps could become a standard reference for future Martian research.

The Iani Chaos region was chosen because of its major topographical interest. It is covered in individual blocks and hills that form a chaotic pattern across the landscape.

These 'islands' of rocks are likely all that remains of a previous surface of Mars. The areas in between the islands collapsed when cavities formed below the surface.

Initially these cavities may have been supported by the presence of ice, which must have melted due to volcanic heat. As the water flowed out towards the northern lowlands of Mars, the landscape collapsed and formed the contours of Iani Chaos region that we see today.

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