New View of Dark Pit on Arsia Mons
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

New View of Dark Pit on Arsia Mons
PSP_004847_1745  Science Theme: Tectonic Processes



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Dark pits on some of the Martian volcanoes have been speculated to be entrances into caves. A previous HiRISE image, looking essentially straight down, saw only darkness in this pit.

This time the pit was imaged from the west. Since the picture was taken at about 2:30 p.m. local (Mars) time, the sun was also shining from the west. We can now see the eastern wall of the pit catching the sunlight.

This confirms that this pit is essentially a vertical shaft cut through the lava flows on the flank of the volcano. Such pits form on similar volcanoes in Hawaii and are called "pit craters." They generally do not connect to long open caverns but are the result of deep underground collapse. From the shadow of the rim cast onto the wall of the pit we can calculate that the pit is at least 178 meters (584 feet) deep. The pit is 150 x 157 meters (492 x 515 feet) across. Written by: Laszlo P. Keszthelyi   (5 September 2007)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_003647_1745.

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Acquisition date:09 August 2007 Local Mars time: 2:34 PM
Latitude (centered):-5.541° Longitude (East):241.398°
Range to target site:263.4 km (164.6 miles)Original image scale range:26.4 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~79 cm across are resolved
Map projected scale:25 cm/pixel and North is upMap projection:Equirectangular
Emission angle:17.7° Phase angle:25.5°
Solar incidence angle:41°, with the Sun about 49° above the horizon Solar longitude:292.1°, Northern Winter
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North azimuth:97° Sub-solar azimuth:335.2°
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North azimuth:270°Sub solar azimuth:150.6°

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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.