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Durham University

Department of Geography

News Archive

Geographical Magazine Highlights 'Distinct' Martian Landscapes Module

(17 April 2015)

Patrice explains the idea behind the module "The main objective and rationale behind Martian Landscapes is to get a group of 3rd year physical geographers to look at a radically different environment (Mars) and to apply their existing knowledge in order to take a critical look at the current state-of-the-art in Martian surface process knowledge and to see what we can infer ourselves regarding the processes that have shaped the red planet. By the time of their third year, the vast majority of students will have some knowledge and field experience of glacial and fluvial environments. This therefore offers an opportunity to look at the question of water on Mars (which is of course crucial) through a very geographic lens by getting students to look at imagery of Mars and test some hypothesis regarding the expected fingerprints that glacial and fluvial activity would have left on the landscape. Another core skill that we use is GIS. The interpretations of the landscape mentioned above are not just qualitative, we put NASA data into a GIS framework and do quantitative measurements to test a range of things from the shapes of valley cross sections to the volumes of sediment removed by some hypothesised megafloods that are used to explain some of the large features we see on Mars".