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On July 4th, 1997, Mars Pathfinder landed at the mouth of Ares Vallis, a large channel that drains into the Chryse Planitia basin. While there remains a great deal to debate about the origin of the channels, one of the leading hypotheses at present is the idea that these features are the result of catastrophic flooding. If this is correct, then the plains where Pathfinder landed may be rich in debris eroded out of the Martian highlands across which the Ares Vallis channel passes, providing a golden combinationâa relatively safe landing site which still provides access to a wide variety of different rock types. [If you would like to learn more about the many Pathfinder results, explore the April, 1999 and January, 2000 issues of the journal Journal of Geophysical ResearchâPlanets (the green one) in the library.] For the sake of this lab assignment you will hypothesize that the Ares Vallis and associated deposits were indeed produced by catastrophic flooding, and will use the information at your disposal to learn all you can about the putative flooding event.
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