Science and Exploration

Mars: Flight Over Atlantis Chaos

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
August 3, 2015
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Mars: Flight Over Atlantis Chaos
Mars: Flight Over Atlantis Chaos.

Explore the Atlantis Chaos region of Mars, in the Red Planet’s southern hemisphere. The video showcases a myriad of features that reflect a rich geological history.
The tour takes in rugged cliffs and impact craters, alongside parts of ancient shallow, eroded basins. See smooth plains scarred with wrinkled ridges, scarps and fracture lines that point to influence from tectonic activity. Marvel at ‘chaotic’ terrain – hundreds of small peaks and flat-topped hills that are thought to result from the slow erosion of a once-continuous solid plateau. This entire region may once have played host to vast volumes of water – look out for the evidence in the form of channels carved into steep-sided walls.

Ancient Atlantis

This colourful image is a topography map of a portion of the region known as Terra Sirenum, located in the southern hemisphere of Mars. The map is colour-coded, with reds and whites representing the highest topography and blues and purples the lowest.

The images shows a myriad of terrain types including cliffs, impact craters, channels carved into steep slopes, wrinkled ridges and scarps, which together reflect a rich geological history.

Perhaps the most prominent feature is the portion of uneven chaotic terrain towards the centre of the image. This is Atlantis Chaos, a lowland plain covering around 170 km by 145 km and containing a few hundred small peaks and flat-topped hills. They are thought to result from the slow erosion of a once-continuous solid plateau.

A number of impact craters occupy the scene and span a range of ages, with the most ancient with almost undetectable rims that have eroded over time. Indeed, the outline of the giant Atlantis Basin is hard to see, but lies at the centre of the image and spans over 200 km. It is connected to another large basin located further south (left) with a diameter of 175 km.

Scientists suspect that some of the craters and basins in this area may have once contained standing water. Indeed, channels carved into the slopes of the ancient basins provide evidence for the existence of water in this region’s past.

This image is a mosaic of four images taken by the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera on 28 December 2008, 29 December 2008, 6 February 2009 and 5 January 2014. The image resolution is roughly 14 m per pixel. Read more about this region here.

Download the full resolution image.

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