Candidate Cavern Entrance Northeast of Arsia Mons
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Candidate Cavern Entrance Northeast of Arsia Mons
PSP_003647_1745  Science Theme: Tectonic Processes


This image shows a very dark spot on an otherwise bright dusty lava plain to the northeast of Arsia Mons, one of the four giant Tharsis volcanoes.

This is not an impact crater as it lacks a raised rim or ejecta. What's amazing is that we cannot see any detail in the shadow! Here we see this dark spot and a version that is "enhanced" to view the darkest area, yet we still cannot see details except noise.

The HiRISE camera is very sensitive and we can see details in almost any shadow on Mars, but not here. We also cannot see the deep walls of the pit. The best interpretation is that this is a collapse pit into a cavern or at least a pit with overhanging walls. We cannot see the walls because they are either perfectly vertical and extremely dark or, more likely, overhanging.

The pit must be very deep to prevent detection of the floor from skylight, which is quite bright on Mars.

Written by: Alfred McEwen   (23 May 2007)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_004847_1745.



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Acquisition date:07 May 2007 Local Mars time: 3:27 PM
Latitude (centered):-5.532° Longitude (East):241.396°
Range to target site:252.5 km (157.8 miles)Original image scale range:25.3 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~76 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:25 cm/pixel and North is upMap projection:Equirectangular
Emission angle:0.6° Phase angle:51.7°
Solar incidence angle:52°, with the Sun about 38° above the horizon Solar longitude:233.4°, Northern Autumn
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North azimuth:97° Sub-solar azimuth:345.0°
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North azimuth:270°Sub solar azimuth:158.9°

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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.