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Heavily cratered martian highlands Terra Sirenum looking north from Mars orbit; terrestrial planet; telluric planet; rocky planet; craters - Space Art Illustration
 

Terra Sirenum looking north

Unlike the rolling volcanic plains of the north, the southern half of Mars is dominated by older, heavily cratered highlands. The distinctly lunar-like terrain of Terra Sirenum belies the fact that, unlike the Earth's Moon, Mars has an active atmosphere.

In this rendering the perspective is from an altitude of about 30 miles and about 30°from Mars' south pole. The large crater with a central peak at the 2 o'clock position near the horizon is Liu Hsin, with a diameter of 80 miles. Just beyond Liu Hsin is the southern rim of a much larger crater named Copernicus, with a diameter of 180 miles. To the west, high-flying cirrus clouds of water ice crystals form complex patterns in the tenuous carbon dioxide atmosphere.

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What's in a name?

Terra refers to any of the relatively light-colored highland areas on the surface of the moon or a planet.

Sirenum comes from Greek mythology and refers to the small rocky islands where the Sirens lived and lured sailors to their deaths.

This rendering is based upon elevation data from NASA's Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter.

Copyright © Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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