Channels and Lava Flows on the Tharsis Plateau
Channels and Lava Flows on the Tharsis Plateau
ESP_020683_2010  Science Theme: Volcanic Processes
These images and the stereo anaglyph show an interesting region of Mars on the giant Tharsis rise, east of Olympus Mons.

There are well-preserved channels and lava flows. HiRISE has acquired 6 stereo pairs as a mosaic over this area. The science goal is to understand the relationships between channels and lava, which are often closely associated on Mars.

The simplest hypothesis is that the lava carved the channels, but we don't understand how lava can deeply erode into bedrock. The generally favored hypothesis is that water carved the channels, and later eruptions of lava followed the already-carved channels, or maybe lava and water flows were interleaved in time.

Floodwaters on Mars may originate from the subsurface, and require fractures to reach the surface. Lava may exploit these same fractures, and the magma at depth may have melted ice to contribute to the water. On the other hand, the water flood may have been much older than the lava eruptions. The channels appear relatively young, but have been coated by younger lava. Many questions remain about these relationships, and high-resolution topographic data is needed to model the processes and deduce the geologic history.

Written by: Alfred McEwen  (2 February 2011)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_020261_2010.
Acquisition date
25 December 2010

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
278.0 km (172.8 miles)

Original image scale range
56.5 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~169 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
62°, with the Sun about 28° above the horizon

Solar longitude
204.7°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  96°
Sub-solar azimuth:  340.6°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (282MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (142MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (139MB)
non-map           (125MB)

IRB color
map projected  (57MB)
non-map           (134MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (258MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (237MB)

RGB color
non map           (124MB)
Map-projected, reduced-resolution
Full resolution JP2 download
Anaglyph details page

10K (TIFF)

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.