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Mars’ Split Surface Personality

Posted by BC on March 14th, 2008

Mars surface dichotomy - NASA/MOLA TeamNorthern Hemisphere: Smooth / Southern Hemisphere: Rough

During a recent conference, planetary scientists discussed ideas as to why Mars has different types of terrain in the northern and southern hemispheres. Two schools of thought have been discussed over the past couple of years as to why the difference. One idea is that something huge crashed into the planet and disrupted the “normal” surface. Another idea is that molten material inside the planet “bubbled” up to cause the smooth area.

It seems that scientists are back to the collision model. If a “…500-mile-wide asteroid [hit Mars] at about 4 miles per second [it] would create an impact scar several thousand miles across and blanket the rest of the planet with a layer of crustal debris several miles thick” (S&T). Everyone involved knows that more research has to be done to determine why Mars has a split surface personality.

More specific can be read at the Sky & Telescope site; The researchers’ results pdf publication; and more recent research at the Lunar and Planetary Sciences 2008 pdf publication.

One person has commented

kady tani said,

i need information on the northern hemisphere in Mars


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