Mars is aptly referred to as the red planet as its surface is red due to a high concentration of iron oxides in the soil. Often the center of science fiction stories, Mars once was believed to support intelligent creatures. Missions to Mars in 1965 and again in 1976 proved that there were no living organisms on Mars. However, this small rocky planet, the fourth from the sun, does have polar ice caps that change in size with the seasons. It is believed that 3.5 billion years ago the most significant floods in the solar system took place on Mars. The Mars Odyssey found large amounts of ice about 1 meter below the surface of Mars in 2002. This ice, thought to be from the floods, would fill Lake Michigan over two times. This is still not enough water to explain the erosion visible on Mars.
Mars touts not only the highest point in the solar
system, but also a canyon over 4 miles (6.5 km) deep. The
highest point, the mountain Olympus Mons is 88,500 feet (almost 17
miles) above the surrounding area and has an astounding diameter of over
300 miles. The base of the mountain is surrounded by a cliff that drops
20,000 feet (almost 4 miles). Compared to Mount Everest, the tallest
point on Earth at 29,035 feet, Olympus Mons is over three times
taller. Another spectacle on Earth is the Grand Canyon which is 277
miles long and 6000 feet deep at its deepest point. On Mars, Valles
Marineris is almost 2500 miles long, approximately the width of the
United States, and nearly 4 miles (6.5 km) deep. In
addition to the surface of Mars dataset, there is a dataset that
includes images of the rovers that landed on Mars and the pictures that
they took. Another dataset for Mars shows the
fields of Mars as measured by the Mars Global Surveyor. This is an
important map because it proves that one point Mars had plate tectonics.
Red is used for positive magnetic fields and blue is negative fields.