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by Chris Wayan, 2003

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

This vast stretch of Southern Highlands looks at first glance like the biggest unbroken desert left on Mars. At the lower right is red, flat Cimmeria. Aside from craters and ejecta, it's a monotonous dry plain.

But in the center of the photo, everything changes. Promethea is a rugged land downwind of the Hellas Sea, and while it technically qualifies as desert, it's full of snowy mountains with conifer woods in sheltered canyons, short fertile river valleys dead-ending in salt lakes, and deep crater-oases like Kepler (dead center).

Orbital photo of a terraformed Mars 1000 years from now: the southern highlands: Hesperia, Promethea, and Cimmeria.

To the north, in the upper left, is Hesperia, the land that convinced most scientists that Mars had once been wet--though the Hesperian Age may have been too brief for life to settle the land. Ancient stream channels wrinkle this plateau, which is nearly mountain-and crater-free. Today, while the land is as rusty red as Australia's outback, and streams are still small and intermittent at best, dry grass anchors the dust--it's a dry, windy, often chill prairie, but alive again, after a billion-year sleep--a land of bison, wild horse, and wolf.

Beyond the huge crater-oasis of Herschel (top center) pioneering trees turn the steppe into savanna; slowly the trees thicken until, near the equator, the Great Escarpment drops us (and quite a few waterfalls) into the Aeolian rainforest.

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:

LISTS AND LINKS: Planetocopia, a series of world-models - dreams of other worlds - dreams and waking thoughts on global warming and climatology - Dreams and essays on time: futurology, the deep past, time travel, and parallel worlds - random rants and essays

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