Of Elephants and Floods of Lava
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Of Elephants and Floods of Lava
ESP_026461_2080  Science Theme: Volcanic Processes
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This observation highlights terrain that looks like an elephant. This is a good example of the phenomena "pareidolia," where we see things (such as animals) that aren't really there.

Actually, this image covers the margin of a lava flow in Elysium Planitia, the youngest flood-lava province on Mars. Flood lavas cover extensive areas, and were once thought to be emplaced extremely rapidly, like a flood of water.

Most lava floods on Earth are emplaced over years to decades, and this is probably true for much of the lava on Mars as well. An elephant can walk away from the slowly advancing flow front. However, there is also evidence for much more rapidly flowing lava on Mars, a true flood of lava. In this instance, maybe this elephant couldn't run away fast enough.

Be sure to check out the anaglyph; red over your right eye and blue on the left for the best effect.

Note: the subimage is not map-projected, so approximate North is down.

Written by: Alfred McEwen   (4 April 2012)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_026738_2080.



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Acquisition date:19 March 2012 Local Mars time: 3:03 PM
Latitude (centered):27.806° Longitude (East):173.034°
Range to target site:291.6 km (182.2 miles)Original image scale range:29.2 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~88 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:25 cm/pixel and North is upMap projection:Equirectangular
Emission angle:4.9° Phase angle:45.7°
Solar incidence angle:41°, with the Sun about 49° above the horizon Solar longitude:85.2°, Northern Spring
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North azimuth:97° Sub-solar azimuth:12.5°
For map-projected products
North azimuth:270°Sub solar azimuth:186.9°

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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.