Cerberus Fossae: In the Relay Zone
Cerberus Fossae: In the Relay Zone
ESP_039121_1905  Science Theme: Fluvial Processes
These trenches or “fossae” are about a kilometer (0.62 miles) across. This area shows where two segments have joined up and are close to a third section.

The fossae are probably areas where the surface has collapsed down into voids made from faults (huge cracks with movement on either side) that don’t extend up to the surface. In structural geology, when multiple faults are closely spaced, we call that a relay zone. These zones have much higher stress built up in the crust and consequently tend to be more fractured. These fractures can serve as “pipes” for fluids (water, lava, gases) to flow through.

This area corresponds with the youngest of Mars’ giant outflow channels, Athabasca Valles, that is only 2 to 20 million years old and shows geologic evidence of having been formed and modified jointly by water and lava.

Written by: Kirby Runyon (naration: Tre Gibbs)  (18 February 2015)
Acquisition date
30 November 2014

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
278.3 km (173.0 miles)

Original image scale range
56.1 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~168 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
59°, with the Sun about 31° above the horizon

Solar longitude
243.7°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  331.7°
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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.