Pit on the Eastern Flank of Pavonis Mons
Pit on the Eastern Flank of Pavonis Mons
ESP_019351_1795  Science Theme: Fluvial Processes
This image was suggested by Dennis Mitchell's seventh grade Mars student team at Evergreen Middle School in Cottonwood, California as part of the HiRISE Quest Student Imaging Challenge.

The students discovered this dark pit feature in a THEMIS image and submitted a HiRISE image suggestion to see a close-up of this feature and determine whether it might be a possible skylight cave.

This image is located on the southeastern flank of Pavonis Mons, a large volcano located in the Tharsis Region of Mars. The dark, circular pit feature roughly in the middle of the image is about 180 meters at its widest diameter.

The pit appears to be surrounded by small sand dunes. Although the western half of the pit is in shadow (see close-up a), the large dynamic range of the HiRISE camera allows one to see in the shadows (see close-up b). The interior of the pit consists of sediment-covered boulders that range in size from approximately 5 meters (approximately 16 ft) to less than 1 meter (approximately 3 feet) in diameter. The interior region of the pit appears to slope towards the northwest. Such pits may form from collapse of a surface "roof" below which lava may long ago have flowed, or as a result of removal of subsurface material due to erosion or extension.

Written by: Evergreen Middle School and Ginny Gulick  (1 November 2010)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_019984_1795.
Acquisition date
12 September 2010

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
255.2 km (158.6 miles)

Original image scale range
25.6 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~77 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 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
147.2°, Northern Summer

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North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  22.4°
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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.