Buttes and Knobs in Cydonia Region
Buttes and Knobs in Cydonia Region
PSP_005924_2210  Science Theme: Fluvial Processes
The Cydonia region on Mars is located in Arabia Terra at the boundary between the Northern lowlands and Southern highlands. This region gained notoriety when Viking imaged a landform that looked like a face.

The “face” has subsequently been imaged by many orbiters, including HiRISE ( PSP_003234_2210), showing that it is simply a rocky mound, and the face-like appearance was due to a trick of shadows. This observation was taken of a region slightly to the southwest of that landform.

This region is characterized by knobs and buttes. Knobs are rounded hills and buttes are hills with steep vertical sides and a flat top. A butte is similar to a plateau, but smaller in scale. These are features that are resistant to erosion, and there are several ways that such features may become more resistant than the surrounding areas. They can be plutonic intrusions or volcanic rocks that are more resistant rock types than the surrounding sedimentary rock. Alternatively, these regions may be resistant because they have been cemented by water carrying dissolved ions that precipitate as minerals binding the sediment together. Either way, they provide important information about the geologic history of the region.

Of note in this image is the interesting pitted and patterned ground. This pitting may have resulted from the sublimation of interstitial ice. (Sublimation is a process by which a solid form turns directly to a gas.) Patterned ground is common throughout the northern mid-latitude plains.

Written by: Alix Davatzes  (11 June 2008)
Acquisition date
01 November 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
300.9 km (187.0 miles)

Original image scale range
30.2 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~91 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
57°, with the Sun about 33° above the horizon

Solar longitude
340.1°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  313.4°
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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.