Viscous Flow in Protonilus Mensae
Viscous Flow in Protonilus Mensae
ESP_017024_2230  Science Theme: Glacial/Periglacial Processes
This subimage highlights a feature that resembles a terrestrial glacier, indicating that material has viscously flowed at this location. It appears that water ice has collected at the head of the valley (at bottom), allowing glacier-like flow toward the top of the subimage.

At the top right of the subimage, the flow appears to have slowed down and stopped, forming ridges perpendicular to the flow direction. Similar features are observed on terrestrial glaciers, but Martian examples are not as bright as many on Earth. The Martian glaciers appear to be covered by dust and other debris, hiding the ice below. Such debris-rich flows on Earth are called "rock glaciers" and may be good analogs for the flow seen here.

Written by: Ken Herkenhoff  (5 May 2010)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_017314_2230.
Acquisition date
15 March 2010

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
297.8 km (185.1 miles)

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30.3 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~91 cm across are resolved

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25 cm/pixel and North is up

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43°, with the Sun about 47° above the horizon

Solar longitude
64.1°, Northern Spring

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Sub-solar azimuth:  350.9°
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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.