Astronomy:Niger Vallis

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Niger Vallis
Dao Niger and Harmakhis Vallis PIA02810.jpg
Niger Vallis is the middle of the three channels pictured, joining Dao Vallis in the upper center of the image. The direction of water flow was toward the bottom of the image.
CoordinatesCoordinates: 35°24′S 267°48′W / 35.4°S 267.8°W / -35.4; -267.8
Length333.0 km
NamingRiver in Africa.

Niger Vallis is a valley on Mars that appears to have been carved by water. It has been identified as an outflow channel.[1] It merges with Dao Vallis which runs southwestward into Hellas Planitia from the volcanic Hadriacus Mons.[2] Like Dao, it was formed around the Late Noachian and Early Hesperian Epochs.[2] It is named after the Niger River in Africa.

Ice-rich mantle

Much of the surface of Mars is covered by a thick smooth mantle that is thought to be a mixture of ice and dust.[3] This ice-rich mantle, a few yards thick, smoothes the land, but in places it has a bumpy texture, resembling the surface of a basketball. Because there are few craters on this mantle, the mantle is relatively young. An image below shows a good view of this smooth mantle around Niger Vallis, as observed with HiRISE.

Changes in Mars's orbit and tilt cause significant changes in the distribution of water ice from polar regions down to latitudes equivalent to Texas. During certain climate periods water vapor leaves polar ice and enters the atmosphere. The water comes back to ground at lower latitudes as deposits of frost or snow mixed generously with dust. The atmosphere of Mars contains a great deal of fine dust particles. Water vapor will condense on the particles, then fall down to the ground due to the additional weight of the water coating. When ice at the top of the mantling layer goes back into the atmosphere, it leaves behind dust, which insulates the remaining ice.[4]


  1. Carr, M.H. (2006), The Surface of Mars. Cambridge Planetary Science Series, Cambridge University Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Crown, D. A.; Bleamaster, L. F.; Mest, S. C. (December 2003). Geologic Evolution of Dao Vallis, Mars. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2003, abstract #P11B-1035. Bibcode2003AGUFM.P11B1035C. 
  3. Head, J. et al. 2003. Recent ice ages on Mars. Nature:426. 797-802.
  4. MLA NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2003, December 18). Mars May Be Emerging From An Ice Age. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 19, 2009, from by GoogleAdvertise

External links