Lava Channel on the Flank of Ascraeus Mons
Lava Channel on the Flank of Ascraeus Mons
ESP_018665_1920  Science Theme: Volcanic Processes
Ascraeus Mons is one of the giant shield volcanoes on Mars. Its flanks are built up of innumerable lava flows, but most are buried by too much dust to see features of interest.

This is one of the better preserved lava flows, showing a distinct channel running diagonally through the observation. As surges of hot lava spilled over the channels banks, levees were built up on either side of the flowing lava. Then, as the eruption slowed, the liquid lava drained out, leaving a long trough.

While a relatively young feature for Mars, this lava surface is still very ancient - as one can tell from the large number of impact craters scattered across the image. The other persistent geologic process has been the wind. Its effect can be seen in the form of bright streaks heading west from craters and other topographic obstacles. This is where bright dust is able to find shelter from the wind.

Written by: Lazslo Kestay  (1 September 2010)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_018520_1920.
Acquisition date
20 July 2010

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
254.3 km (158.0 miles)

Original image scale range
52.3 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~157 cm across are resolved

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50 cm/pixel and North is up

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Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
48°, with the Sun about 42° above the horizon

Solar longitude
121.1°, Northern Summer

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North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  25.2°
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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.