Pitted Cones: Possible Methane Sources?
Pitted Cones: Possible Methane Sources?
ESP_055307_2215  Science Theme: Tectonic Processes
This observation shows relatively bright mounds scattered throughout darker and diverse surfaces in Chryse Planitia. These mounds are hundreds of meters in size. The largest of the mounds shows a central pit, similar to the collapsed craters found at the summit of some volcanoes on Earth. The origins of these pitted mounds or cratered cones are uncertain. They could be the result of the interaction of lava and water, or perhaps formed from the eruption of hot mud originating from beneath the surface.

These features are very interesting to scientists who study Mars, especially to those involved in the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter mission. If these mounds are indeed mud–related, they may be one of the long sought after sources for transient methane on Mars.

Written by: Alyssa Werynski, Jennifer Newman, Eric Pilles, Sarah Simpson, Livio Tornabene (audio: Tre Gibbs)  (4 September 2018)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_063325_2215.
Acquisition date
15 May 2018

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
300.0 km (186.4 miles)

Original image scale range
60.5 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~181 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
175.8°, Northern Summer

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  96°
Sub-solar azimuth:  338.6°
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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.