This colorful 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 color-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 center 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 center 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.
Explore this region in more detail in a new video.