Source: Discovery News Brief, June 18, 1999,
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The Mars Global Surveyor has received a love letter from the Red Planet, as
new images reveal a gigantic "Heart" formation stretched across the Martian
New images released Thursday by NASA show a distinctly heart-shaped pit on
the Martian surface. The "Heart" on Mars is the latest addition to a
growing list of fanciful features spotted on the Red Planet's surface.
The most famous of all, of course, is the "Face" on Mars, a rock formation
resembling a human face that was first photographed by the Viking
spacecraft in the 1970s. The picture spawned ongoing speculation that
extraterrestrials built the Face.
More recently, cameras from the Global Surveyor also revealed a "Happy
Face" on Mars, a 134-mile-wide crater bearing a striking resemblance to the
well-known happy face icon. This jolly formation was discovered during the
first day of the Global Surveyor' s mapping mission in March.
The Martian valentine was formed when a straight-walled trough, called a
graben in geological terms, collapsed, according to a NASA press release.
Graben form along fault lines as bedrock terrain expands, says NASA. The
features typically form as tectonic forces move the ground apart, or when
the ground is uplifted by molten rock from deep within the planet shooting
up toward the Martian surface, NA SA says.
At its widest, the Martian "Heart" stretches about 1.4 miles across. Ground
controllers trained the Global Surveyor's camera on the formation to
examine the relationship between a lava flow and the graben and pits that
cut across the flow, disrupting its path.
The graben, pit, and lava flow are located on the east flank of the Alba
Patera volcano in northern Tharsis, a volcanic region of Mars, NASA says.
By Discovery News Brief
*Mission to Mars '99
*The Face on Mars
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