Large Lava Fan on the Northwestern Flank of Olympus Mons
Large Lava Fan on the Northwestern Flank of Olympus Mons
PSP_003331_2005  Science Theme: Volcanic Processes
Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the Solar System is a shield volcano built up by lava flow after lava flow. Like the larger shield volcanoes Mauna Loa and Etna on Earth, many of these lava flows carried the liquid lava in open channels.

In some places these channels break down and the lava spills out, forming a broad fan. In the center of this HiRISE image, you can see a lava channel that has fed many overflows to both sides. The lava was traveling from the southeast toward the north and northwest.

When viewed at full-resolution, the HiRISE image shows a very irregular surface. This is caused by a thick layer of very small particles that are being moved around by the wind. The linear features that could be mistaken for dunes in lower resolution images turn out to look more like wind-eroded ridges, called "yardangs" by geologists.

Written by: Laszlo Kestay  (30 May 2007)

Acquisition date
13 April 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
267.9 km (166.5 miles)

Original image scale range
54.1 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~162 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
63°, with the Sun about 27° above the horizon

Solar longitude
218.0°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  335.7°
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non-map           (314MB)

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RGB: red-green-blue
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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

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.