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by Chris Wayan, 2003

Mars Reborn: homepage -- Index: Martian place names -- Planetocopia: more world-models

Called Claritas Fossae (cracks) on old maps, this is really one of Mars's highest and longest mountain ranges. From the Noctis Labyrinthus at the head of Mariner Canyon, the Claritas range curves south, then east, then north again for over 2500 kilometers, to end on the cliff-edges of Mariner again. The highest peaks reach over 6000 m (20,000 ft). As the name Fossae suggests, it's an odd sort of range, full of cracks, grooves, scarps, winding ridges, solitary peaks and rangelets, many at right angles to the overall curve. Their height and length echo the Andes. And their peaks are nearly as barren--the Claritas trap some snow, but the few summer streams quickly sink underground, and the air is too thin to support much animal life. Grass and even low pine woods fill some sheltered valleys, but the heights are nearly as stark as Tharsis.

Orbital photo of a terraformed Mars 1000 years from now: upper Mariner complex and the Claritas range.
The Solis Plateau, between Claritas and the Mariner canyons, is high, cool steppe land, with no surface streams. Slow-growing bunch grasses feed herds of Tibetan antelope. In the northeast, near the Mariner rim, rising air causes thunderstorms, which feed the Sinai Forest, a thousand-kilometer strip of aspen woods hugging the brink of the abyss. It's like the north rim of Earth's Grand Canyon--only Martian in scale.

Map of Mars. Click a feature to go there.
Index of Martian place names. Or for a tour, the following route snakes around Mars, covering all major features:

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