Dusty Summit of Pavonis Mons
Dusty Summit of Pavonis Mons
ESP_012692_1810  Science Theme: Volcanic Processes
Pavonis Mons is one of the three giant Tharsis Montes shield volcanoes. Its summit rises so far above the surface that the atmosphere is extremely thin, even for Mars.

Dust that reaches these heights (for example, during major dust storms) is hard to remove, so the upper parts of these volcanoes are covered by vast deposits of dust. The dust is moved a little by the thin winds, producing ripples and other textures near the limit of HiRISE's resolution. The fluffy, ripply surface looks “smudged” or out of focus, but by looking at some of the small impact craters you can see that the HiRISE camera is, indeed, properly focused. It’s the surface of Mars that is blurry!

The impact craters also show that the dust is not a thin veneer. Instead, it is a thick coat, at least several meters (yards) deep. This mantling of dust hides the details of the lava flows and vents, frustrating volcanologists but delighting those who study dust!

Written by: Laszlo P. Kestay  (22 April 2009)
Acquisition date
11 April 2009

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
253.6 km (157.6 miles)

Original image scale range
50.8 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~153 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
55°, with the Sun about 35° above the horizon

Solar longitude
244.7°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  337.3°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
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Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
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RGB color
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Black and white
map-projected   (114MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (53MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (48MB)
non-map           (50MB)

IRB color
map projected  (19MB)
non-map           (61MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (105MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (101MB)

RGB color
non map           (59MB)
B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:

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. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.