- Syrtis Major
caption=Mars digital-image mosaic merged with color of the MC-13 quadrangle, Syrtis Major region of Mars.
Syrtis Major Planum is a "dark spot" (an
albedo feature) located in the boundary between the northern lowlands and southern highlands of Mars. It was discovered, on the basis of data from Mars Global Surveyor, to be a low-relief shield volcanoCitation
last = Hiesinger
first = H.
last2 = Head ( [http://www.planetary.brown.edu/html_pages/headpubs.htm publications] )
first2 = J. W.
title = The Syrtis Major volcanic province, Mars: Synthesis from Mars Global Surveyor data
journal = Journal of Geophysical Research
volume = 109
issue = E1
year = 2004
url = http://www.planetary.brown.edu/pdfs/2763.pdf
doi = 10.1029/2003JE002143
id = E01004
pages = E01004] , but was formerly believed to be a
plain, and was then known as Syrtis Major Planitia. The dark color comes from the basaltic volcanic rock of the region and the relative lack of dust.
Geography and geology
Syrtis Major is centered near at coord|8.4|69.5|globe:Mars, extends some 1,500 km (930 miles) north from the planet's equator, and spans 1,000 km (620 miles) from west to east. It encompasses a large slope from its western edge at
Aeriadropping 4 km (2.5 miles) to its eastern edge at Isidis Planitia. It includes a high-altitude bulge that rises 6 km (3.7 miles) at 310° W. Most of Syrtis Major has slopes of less than 1°, a much lower inclination than the slopes of the Tharsisshield volcanoes. It has a 350x150 km north-south elongated central depression containing the calderas Nili Pateraand Meroe Patera, which are about 2 km deep. The floors of the calderas are not elevated relative to the terrain surrounding Syrtis Major. The floor of Nili Patera is the less cratered, and therefore the younger, of the two. While most of the rock is basaltic, dacitehas also been detected in Nili Patera.cite web
title = Mars Odyssey Mission THEMIS web site
date = 2006-10-23
url = http://themis.asu.edu/features/nilipatera
accessdate = 2007-09-08 ] Satellite gravity field measurements show a positive gravity anomaly centered on the caldera complex, inferring the presence of a 600x300 km north-south elongated extinct
magma chamberbelow, containing dense minerals (probably mainly pyroxene, with olivinealso possible) that precipitated out of magmabefore eruptions. [cite journal
last = Kiefer
first = Walter S.
title = Gravity evidence for an extinct magma chamber beneath Syrtis Major, Mars: a look at the magmatic plumbing system
journal = Earth and Planetary Science Letters
volume = 222
issue = 2
pages = 349– 361
doi = 10.1016/j.epsl.2004.03.009] Crater counts date Syrtis Major to the early Hesperian epoch; it postdates formation of the adjacent Isidis
Discovery and name
The name Syrtis Major is derived from the classical Roman name "Syrtis maior" for the
Gulf of Sidraon the coast of Libya(classical Cyrenaica).
Syrtis Major was the first documented surface feature of another
planet. It was discovered by Christiaan Huygens, who included it in a drawing of Mars in 1659. The feature was originally known as the Hourglass Sea but has been given different names by different cartographers. In 1840, Johann von Mädlercompiled a map of Mars from his observations and called the feature Atlantic Canale. In Richard Proctor's 1867map it is called then Kaiser Sea (after Frederick Kaiserof the Leiden Observatory). Camille Flammarioncalled it the Mer du Sablier (French for "Hourglass Sea") when he revised Proctor's nomenclature in 1876. The name "Syrtis Major" was chosen by Giovanni Schiaparelliwhen he created a map based on observations made during Mars' close approach to Earth in 1877. [cite book| title=Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination, and the Birth of a World| first=Oliver| last=Morton| publisher=Picador USA| location=New York| year=2002| isbn=0312245513| pages=14-15] [cite web|url=http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/onlinebks/mars/chap04.htm|title=The Planet Mars: A History of Observation and Discovery - Chapter 4: Areographers|author=William Sheehan|accessdate=2007-09-07]
Syrtis Major was the object of much observation due to its seasonal and long-term variations. This led to theories that it was a shallow sea and later that its variability was due to seasonal vegetation. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, the Mariner and Viking planetary probes led scientists to conclude that the variations were caused by wind blowing dust and sand across the area. It has many windblown deposits that include light-colored halos or "
plumose streaks" that form downwind of craters. These streaks are accumulations of dust resulting from disruption of the wind by the elevated rims of the craters ('wind shadows').
List of mountains on Mars by height
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