Ancient Lava Flow
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Ancient Lava Flow
ESP_020827_1595  Science Theme: Composition and Photometry
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Ever wonder what a lava flow might look like after about 3 billion years of sitting on the windswept surface of Mars?

It makes a rocky, rough, cratered surface, with sand dunes and other windblown deposits. According to the OMEGA spectrometer on Mars Express, these flows are rich in the mineral olivine. Since olivine is easily altered by water, this site has been extremely dry for billions of years.

This is a great example of someplace we'll probably never send a lander or rover. It would be difficult to land here successfully, and isn't a good candidate for studying habitable environments.

On the other hand, getting a radiometric date for these rocks would be quite useful, to better understand the volcanic history of Mars and to calibrate attempts to date the surface from the density of impact craters.

Written by: Alfred McEwen   (16 February 2011)



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Acquisition date:05 January 2011 Local Mars time: 3:39 PM
Latitude (centered):-20.250° Longitude (East):274.509°
Range to target site:253.7 km (158.6 miles)Original image scale range:50.8 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~152 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:50 cm/pixel and North is upMap projection:Equirectangular
Emission angle:1.0° Phase angle:51.9°
Solar incidence angle:53°, with the Sun about 37° above the horizon Solar longitude:211.5°, Northern Autumn
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North azimuth:97° Sub-solar azimuth:5.0°
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North azimuth:270°Sub solar azimuth:178.9°

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For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona. The image data were processed using the U.S. Geological Survey’s ISIS3 software.