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(Jon sez:)

Your Writer: Jon Kilgannon Noachis Terra is a real place on Mars, a large and old area of heavily cratered highlands in the Southern Hemisphere. Noachis Terra is a very old region, and has been pretty stable since the Late Noachian Period on Mars (which is an era coincident with the early Precambrian Era on Earth). If there was once life on Mars it may have been active during this Noachian Period, when Mars had a thicker atmosphere and possibly open pools of liquid water.

The process of building up a picture of the history of Mars is one of those bits of science that few people know about; however, it is really fascinating. Working with telescopes and a few space probes at a distance of tens of millions of miles, scientists have divided Martian geologic history into three main periods: the Noachian, the Hesperian, and the Amazonian. That planetologists have been able to do this is really quite an accomplishment, in light of the constraints of distance under which they are laboring.

The grasses around Caprice and Benjamin, of course, would not be native Martian life. There is no evidence that there are any macroscopic plants on Mars today. The grass in the comic would have been imported from Earth with the first colonists.

(Mark sez:)

Your Artist: Mark Sachs Good thing they decided not to ride the ship down, huh? I suspect that wouldn't have worked out so well.

If you'd like to see exactly where Noachis Terra is, here is a handsome map with the various regions of Mars labeled. Noachis Terra is #21. As it happens, our heroes have crashlanded not far from where one of NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers will be setting down next year.

Better yet, though, why not stroll outside some evening this week or next and see Noachis Terra (and the rest of Mars) for yourself? There won't be a better opportunity to view the Red Planet for tens of thousands of years, unless we get off our butts and colonize the place of course.