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Kid's Tour to Mars

Comparing Floodplains on Earth and Mars

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Comparison to Ares Vallis Flood Plain

Compare these flood plain rocks and boulders with the Mars Pathfinder image below. Except for the sagebrush and blue sky the image is similar. Sharp edges indicate the rocks did not travel very far from where they first entered the water flow. Rounded edges indicate that a rock has bounced along in fast flowing water for long enough to chip and break off tiny pieces.

Flood plain rocks and boulders
Flood plain rocks and boulders near Soap Lake.

Twin Peaks by the Mars Pathfinder

Click for Tiu Vallis Flood Plain area
(Image and Description
by NASA/JPL)

Click on image for a detail view.

Twin Peaks in Super Resolution
"The Twin Peaks are modest-size hills to the southwest of the Mars Pathfinder landing site. They were discovered on the first panoramas taken by the IMP camera on the 4th of July, 1997, and subsequently identified in Viking Orbiter images taken over 20 years ago. The peaks are approximately 30-35 meters (-100 feet) tall. North Twin is approximately 860 meters (2800 feet) from the lander, and South Twin is about a kilometer away (3300 feet). The scene includes bouldery ridges and swales or "hummocks" of flood debris that range from a few tens of meters away from the lander to the distance of the South Twin Peak."

The next valley to Ares Vallis is Tiu Vallis seen in this NASA image at right. The flow of water is from the bottom of the image to the top. The crater to the left of the arrow point is about 50 km across. Note the sculpted features of channels and islands.

 


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Geology Terms

Here are some basic terms used in the tour. Find more geology terms in the Glossary.

Ares Vallis
Area of Mars where the Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner Rover landed.
Channel
The deepest part of a river or bay.
Channeled Scabland
Area in Washington state where huge floods made channels in a large, deep basalt flow. Named by J Harlan Bretz during the 1920's in various publications. See also Glacial Lake Missoula.
Coulee
Long winding channel cut through lava formations. A term primarily used in the northwestern United States.
Floodplain
A smooth plain covered by deposits of sand, gravel and rocks from floods.
Erosion
Lifting and removal of rock, dirt, sand and the like caused by wind, water, or glacial ice.
Geomorphology
The study of the changes in landforms due to volcanoes, earthquakes, weather,
floods, etc.
Gravel
Rounded rock fragments larger than sand.
Ice Age
A period in Earth's history when much of the continents are covered with ice sheets and glaciers.
Jokulhlaups
A flood created when a body of water held by a glacial dam breaks through the confining walls. The Lake Missoula Floods were jokulhlaups.

Kids' Cosmos… Expanding Minds Beyond the Limits of the Universe

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