Lava Lamp Terrain on the Floor of Hellas Basin
Lava Lamp Terrain on the Floor of Hellas Basin
ESP_025780_1415  Science Theme: Composition and Photometry
Some of the weirdest and least-understood landscapes on Mars are on the floor of the deep Hellas impact basin. This image was acquired in northwest Hellas where depths are more than 6 kilometers below the reference (or roughly the average) altitude for Mars.

There are what look like impact craters but are elongated, as if stretched in a viscous manner (like in a lava lamp). Some of the flowing landforms are similar to those elsewhere in the middle latitudes of Mars, where the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) experiment on MRO has detected ice, but no ice detection has been reported here.

The floor of Hellas is relatively poorly mapped because it is often obscured by dust and haze in the atmosphere.

Written by: Alfred McEwen  (28 March 2012)
Acquisition date
26 January 2012

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
258.8 km (160.9 miles)

Original image scale range
51.9 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~156 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
74°, with the Sun about 16° above the horizon

Solar longitude
62.0°, Northern Spring

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  51.4°
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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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.