Mars’s Surface Is Messed Up | The Martian Dichotomy

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Most rocky planets have pretty consistent surface features, with a fairly even mix of mountains and basins in each hemisphere. This is NOT the case on Mars! What do scientists know about this mystery?

Thumbnail image credit: NASA / JPL / USGS

Tags: scishow, scishow space, Space, Science, hank green, astrophysics, astronomy, mars, NASA, lander, magnetic field, atmosphere, solar wind, climate, ice, Mars, Martian, spacecraft, mantle plume

  1. BzRazor

    Mar’s surface is actually a wasteland with buried city rubble caused by a nuclear weapon which destroyed martin civilization. There is strong evidence of nuclear fallout isotope that can only be created from nuclear related weapons

  2. Justwin J. Bees

    So, the first comment thing is 5 years too late, but

    First Comment (I think)

  3. What's Next?

    Mars isn’t messed up, YOUR FACE is messed up! 😎

  4. Israeldiegorivera2 Genius

    Mr Nerd is back

  5. jefferstangier

    And this explains how the civilizations of Mars were destroyed or went into hiding!?

  6. Artsiom Shamsutdzinau

    Why SciShow thumb?

  7. Kraaken Hex


  8. David Davis

    Smh 🤦‍♂️ seriously?
    It’s because the gravity pulls all the dirt down to the south…
    Big NASA be spreading misinformation again 😔

  9. Nemo •

    Why are you guys not pbs

  10. Bran

    Plot twist, the northern hemisphere had a planetary annihilation device explode destroying all civilization on the planet in a galactic war between ancient Martians and another alien race, the millions of years that have since past has removed all evidence. Only DNA samples sent in a pod sent to Earth survived, we’re all descended from Martians.


  11. Renato Custódio Pereira

    It’s probably a result of the war between the green and the white martians.

  12. Zeta Belotto

    This is big news! Also it reminds me of the features on this side of the moon! Would both fenomena be related???

  13. emperorSbraz

    the doom slayer was on the north pole when he sneezed for the first time.

  14. alertonoff 4

    erm .. discreetly witty

  15. Densetsu Drawings

    nice 👋

  16. Ryan Miller

  17. thisiszaphod

    *Mars’ not Mars’s.

  18. uruwow 8

    Most Rocky planets have a version of the Rolling Stones.

  19. Star Scapes

    It just occurred to me… could we drill into the mantle of Mars?!? We primarily stopped trying on earth because the rock started behaving more like plastics due to high temperatures, so with Mars being much cooler…. maybe someday?

  20. LeftPinkie

    Isn’t “Martian geology” a contradiction? Geology is the science of the earth’s topography… geo means earth.

  21. DecafKauffee

    If the southern highlands were made from massive amounts of lava, does that mean there should be hollow chambers under Mars’ surface?

  22. Toughen Up, Fluffy

    Mars is the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Ares, the god of war. (He who lives by the can opener, dies by the can opener).

  23. Michael McChesney

    I wonder if the timing and masses would work out such that the Pluto sized object could have glanced off of Mars then impacted the Earth forming the moon. But I would imagine if the numbers worked out for that it would have been mentioned. If I had to guess, I’d say the timing wouldn’t work out as the collision that formed the moon was very early in the history of the Solar System.

  24. GCJT1949

    Silly human, the forerunners planetary engineering failed. Mars and Venus were supposed to form another Earth / Moon double planet, but they missed..sigh…the best laid scheme of things..indescribable. Geoff Who read way too much Science Fiction in his youth. ;->

  25. Scott Anderson

    Throw some gorillas at it

  26. Steven Utter

    Uh oh, got a new band name up for grabs. Please welcome, Martian Crustal Dichotomy. Opening for Coronal Mass Ejection, which actually is a real band, but they got sued because the name was apparently already taken,but the ones with the rights to the name, are truly undeserving in comparison when you listen to the band now regrettably known as Luminance. Which just sucks imo, but at least they got to name their first album CME.

  27. spacejamgoliath


  28. Allis-Chalmers B-10

    Great video!

  29. Scott Dilworth


  30. Kolin Martz

    The north is going to be where there will be oceans on mars. *a single tear come out on one eye as country music plays in the back*

  31. Shutter Fallmite

    Engaging comment

  32. Nikolaj11

    You made this video because of Atlas Pro didn’t you? Anyone interested should check out his video on the subject, it goes much more in depth.

  33. Jonathan West

    Nuclear weapons

  34. Willowtan

    So should we set a colony up in the north or south?

  35. Isaac Custer

    Call me stupid, but could just be where the ocean formed?

  36. Mystery Toe

    I’m curious as to why an oblique impact to Mars wouldn’t leave a crinkle or folds along the edge of the impact. Was ancient Martian geology deformable in that way?

  37. Jons LG

    Maybe mars collided with something, shearing off that area leaving it more prone to eruption. Then over hundreds of millions of years the planet rounded back out.. Maybe that’s why it has so many moons =)

  38. Moo Meow

    What if the moon touched mars

  39. Jack Savage

    What about the asteroid belt. Supposedly now a destroyed planet/s? How about Ceres in that same belt?

  40. Snakes_Shadow

    What about…. Martian Pangea? The planet just cooled too quickly for it to break up?

  41. Osmosis Jones

    Lot could be from liquid water seasonal melting. But also bacteria plants animals greatly affected geology.
    If. The sea&river beds gullies sendiments were billions of years old would they still be around and at rate of losing its atmosphere how far back in time before it gets thick .
    I found calculations.

  42. BadWolf77

    Maybe Earth is messed up and Mars is actually normal? We do seem to base our judgment on where we live.

  43. My Perspective

    Could a big enough asteroid hit the planet to cause the core to be displaced , where in the core is thrust to one side acting like the clapper of a bell.

  44. oskar recon

    Olympus munns cooled it way faster then they think i bet ,.

  45. my back HURTS

    Northern half of the planet was an ocean


    Hey wait is hank green and joe hanson different?

  47. Osmosis Jones

    If the sea& River beds gullies and sendiments were billions of years old would they still be around.
    At rate mars is losing it’s atmosphere how far back in time before it gets thick

  48. Erica Mallott

    So basically, Mars is weird? 😁

  49. AvangionQ

    Giant impacts cause antipodal mantle plumes.

  50. The Old Khajiit


  51. Rick Seiden

    How long does it take for the poles to flip? I don’t mean how long between the poles flipping, but rather how long does the “flip event” take to complete.

  52. oktyrant

    Mar’s Southern hemisphere is thiccc

  53. Cooper Gehmlich

    Our moon is roughly the size of Pluto…

  54. sagacious03

    Neat video! Thanks for uploading!

  55. bret hammell

    This is so cool!

  56. Tails Williams

    Hank looks tan ;D

  57. altrag

    There are only 3 rocky planets that are close enough for us to have examined (we don’t really know anything about the surface of Venus thanks to its thick probe-destroying atmosphere.) I mean technically 2/3 counts as “most” but it still seems a bit of a stretch of terminology.

  58. Chris Heichel

    Maybe that possible collision was a bounce instead of a permanent collision. And one of the moons is the captured culprit?

  59. RAMpayge

    I thought “The Martian Dichotomy” was the question about whether or not there were Martians on Mars 😞

  60. Chucky Dickens

    How might this collision and the collision that we believe formed earth’s moon compare? What if, hypothetically, Mars hit earth at low speed and the moon was formed?

  61. Scribe13

    I love the word *smooth* it’s so…smoooth

  62. UncleBibby

    wow, so the scientific establishment DOES know about Mars’ direct destruction of the ancient alien planet Tiamat… they just call it something else 👀

  63. New Message

    I feel ya Mars.. I had a crustal issue in high school.. it gets better. Hang in there.

  64. DANG JOS

    Perhaps the erupting volcano, near the south pole, can help explain how Mars was warm in its early years? I don’t know; just a thought.

  65. Marcos Rodrigues Carvalho

    I think Earth’s hemispheres are also very different: the northern has most of the land, with almost 90% of the population as a consequence, while the southern is mostly ocean. this affects the heat distribution and the seasons in each hemisphere.

  66. Osmosis Jones

    Mars was actually larger or might have been if vaporizer. Sulfur hydrogen bonds .
    Carbon nitrogen bonds into the atmosphere that planetary material would blow away with the rest of the atmosphere. Plus how much of the earths gravity. Is water how much of earths geologic activity is driven by ocean Subduction

  67. Leo Lionhart

    Every time I look at SciShow Space subscription number, I feel like there are way too few people who are interested in science and space.

    Perhaps that explains why there might be more subscribers to Flat Earth theories and such.

    It’s sad to see only 1.32M people on Earth that believes the earth is not flat, and not perfectly spherical either.

  68. d_breadstix_guy

    We told him he couldn’t just shoot a hole into the surface of Mars… He clearly didn’t listen

  69. FunkyHonkyCDXX

    We had a map of Mars up for a long time, and I always found it amusing how the highest point was in the northern hemisphere and the lowest point was in the southern, at direct contrast to the averages of the two.

  70. xt hydra

    4:05 other than earth moon… lol

  71. Mark Marcum

    It’s great to watch videos that teach and inspire. Most of what I see these days is political and angry.

  72. James Petts

    “Magma from the Martian mantle” is a splendid piece of alliteration.

  73. Foxy Thunder

    Where’s Reed been lately? I’m starting to get worried about him….

  74. ǝɹɐɯʇɥᵷᴉu evergreen

    “martian geology”? wouldn’t that be areology instead?

  75. axinomancy

    The geological differences between the northern and southern Martian hemispheres are a plot point in the Martian Trilogy beginning with Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson! If you’re into hard science fiction set on Mars with a political/sociological/psychological bent, then I highly recommend checking it out. Robinson’s descriptions of the Martian landscape are truly beautiful and get across how this barren, dead, alien landscape might also have some intrinsic value as it is now.

  76. Interesting Fives

    Nothing large enough hanging around mars……….

    Phobos: WHAT ABOUT ME

  77. Dogenator

    If you found this interesting, you should watch a video made by Atlas Pro, about the geography of Mars. Very interesting watch.
    Edit,: spelling

  78. Maddie Begg

    Solved: Mars is actually two half-planets glued together.

  79. Darkness the Curse

    Mars: *minding its own business*

    Pluto’s angry cousin: “I’m about to smooth this man’s whole career…”

  80. Robert Lockard

    “there aren’t any rogue pluto sized objects around mars these days” *eyes phobos & deimos’s orbits suspiciously*
    I wonder if a moon de-orbiting is in the right speed range.

  81. bhami

    Perhaps not quite so extreme, but note that both Earth and the Moon have similar large-scale crustal asymmetries. With Earth, it’s the Pacific Ocean as a whole. With the Moon, note that all the maria are on the Earth-facing side. The far side is much more heavily and uniformly cratered.

  82. Al Kh

    it’s nice to see a resurgence in geophysics and mantal crust convection studies.. keep up the terribly fascinating work fellow humans

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