Lava that Once Flowed
Lava that Once Flowed
ESP_047071_2065  Science Theme: Volcanic Processes
This image shows some beautiful lava flows in Amazonis Planitia. Lava isn’t moving around on Mars today, but it certainly once did, and images like this one are evidence of that.

A thick lava flow came in from the west, and you can see the cooled flow lobes and wrinkled upper surface. East of the flow margin, this most recent flow also coursed over an older lava surface which shows some long, north-south breaks, and in the southeast corner, an arrowhead-shaped set of ridges. These textures are most likely from rafted slabs of lava. Under certain conditions, a large piece of lava can cool, but then detach and move like an iceberg over a cushion of still-molten lava.

The long, narrow north-south smooth areas are probably where two of these plates rafted away from one another exposing the lava below. The arrowhead-shaped ridges are probably from when one of these plates pushed up against another one and caused a pile-up before cooling.

Written by: Ross Beyer (narration: Tre Gibbs)  (19 October 2016)
Acquisition date
11 August 2016

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
290.1 km (180.3 miles)

Original image scale range
58.1 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~174 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
60°, with the Sun about 30° above the horizon

Solar longitude
201.9°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  337.0°
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IRB color
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Black and white
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non-map           (144MB)

IRB color
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non-map           (138MB)

Merged IRB
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Merged RGB
map-projected  (264MB)

RGB color
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B&W label
Color label
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

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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.