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The "Silver Plain" and the "Mountains of the Nereids"

When Mars was not yet being examined by space probes at close range, even the most powerful telescopes from Earth could only detect large landscapes. This included the Argyre Basin, whose topography could not be derived from the telescopic observations. Named after two mythical islands, namely Chryse and Argyre, which Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) located in the Indian Ocean near the mouth of the Indus River and to which large deposits of gold (gr. chrysos) and silver (argyros) were attributed, these names were incorporated into the first cartographic works on Mars.

Above all, Giovanni Schiaparelli (1835-1910) rendered outstanding services to the first detailed mapping of Mars, who used the proximity of Mars to Earth for intensive observations in 1877. At that time the "Golden Plain", Chryse Planitia, further north, was also included in the nomenclature. The Nereides Montes, the "Mountains of the Nereids" (named after the 50 daughters of Nereus, a sea god in Greek mythology, and his wife Doris, the daughter of Oceanos and the Tethys) did not receive their name until the space age, when smaller regional structures could also be identified.

The HRSC images show a region shaped by various geological processes after the formation of the Argyre ring basin about four billion years ago, where water, ice (on and below the surface) and more recently wind have left their traces of erosion. Originally, Argyre was much deeper than it is today. Eroded rock was transported by glaciers and flowing waters into the basin and gradually filled it up.