by Chris Wayan, 2003
Mars Reborn: homepage -- Index: Martian place names -- Planetocopia: more world-models
Tempe is a cool green land west of Chryse Gulf and north of Kasei. It's rough and ridgy, unusually cratered for the north, and speckled with small volcanoes (small for Mars; Mt. Coriolanus is respectable by any other world's standards).
The coast, like most on Mars, is ragged, with many mesa-islands covered in hardwood forest. Fall here is spectacular, with red and gold islands rising from a dusky violet sea...
Inland, as the land rises toward Tharsis, it grows cold, but the rise squeezes moisture from the air, feeding dwarf forests and alpine meadows. Lichen-eaters, particularly reindeer and Martian mammoth, roam these strange uplands, gashed with deep fossae where dark woods line deep, narrow lakes.
Higher still, the plateaus turn salmon and pink with alternating, undulating topographic layers of snow, dust, and red rock--in places, it's reminiscent of the layered Arctic terrain, now lost under the sea.
Two great ridge-and-groove complexes, which on Earth would pass for mountain ranges, cut across the land southwest-northeast--Tempe Fossae near the shore, and Mareotis, higher and further inland.
At the bottom left are the first and smallest of the Tharsis volcanoes: Mt Ceraunius (white cone), Uranius Tholus (smaller, to northwest) and the largest, Uranius Patera, a wide caldera sporting (of all things) a lake--unnatural at this alpine altitude.
Lake Uranius is kept partly ice-free by thermal vents--a milky blue eye in an otherwise stark world of red and white. Its humid plume feeds ice-fogs and snow flurries all over Tharsis and upper Tempe, allowing pockets of life in fossae and craters--though that life is still mostly lichen and tundra grass. These grow slowly, but undisturbed, for few animals thrive in the high, thin air.
Yet Tempe's highest points are a mere five or ten kilometers up, not even as high as the feet of the Big Four to the south.
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