Cerberus Fossae Fissures
Cerberus Fossae Fissures
PSP_005720_1885  Science Theme: Tectonic Processes
This image shows several parallel segments of the Cerberus Fossae. This is a system of fissures formed by extension and stretching of the near-surface of Mars. It is associated with some of the most recent large-scale events on the planet.

The Athabasca Valles channel system has its source at one segment of the Cerberus Fossae. This channel was most likely carved by a massive flood of water, perhaps released by the same tectonic processes which formed the fossae. Cerberus Fossae then extruded a large lava flow that draped Athabasca Valles. HiRISE images were recently used to describe details of this history in a paper published in the journal Science (Jaeger et al., Science, volume 317).

In the RGB false-color, this image shows a striking contrast. The plains are a generally bland beige, while the floors of the fissures are bright blue. Since the fissure walls are cutting through the lava which makes up the plains, the blue color probably indicates relatively dust-free exposed rock, while the beige is due to dust coating the level plains. Although the Cerberus Fossae released lava in places, at this site there is no evidence for a vent and the fissures have simply cut through pre-existing lava.

Written by: Colin Dundas  (7 November 2007)
Acquisition date
16 October 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
275.3 km (171.1 miles)

Original image scale range
27.5 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~83 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
38°, with the Sun about 52° above the horizon

Solar longitude
331.5°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  334.2°
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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.