Dark Lava Flow in Tharsis
Dark Lava Flow in Tharsis
PSP_008710_1710  Science Theme: Volcanic Processes
This image shows a relatively dark lava flow on the Tharsis volcanic plains, east of Arsia Mons.

The entire region is composed of a thick stack of volcanic flows. The lava flow in the northern part of the image is distinctly darker than its surroundings, which are buried under a layer of dust.

Most of the image has a fluffy, blurry texture. This is the mantle of dust or volcanic ash that commonly coats volcanic regions on Mars. The dark flow is buried by this material along its southeastern boundary; it appears that the mantle is being stripped off of the flow surface. Perhaps this flow is somewhat smooth at a fine scale and traps relatively little dust.

This flow is probably young. The Western edge of the dark region does appear to be the edge of the lava flow, indicating that this flow is relatively high-standing. This could make it more exposed to the wind and allow the mantle to be stripped.

Written by: Colin Dundas  (6 August 2008)
Acquisition date
05 June 2008

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
255.4 km (158.7 miles)

Original image scale range
25.7 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~77 cm across are resolved

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25 cm/pixel and North is up

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Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
59°, with the Sun about 31° above the horizon

Solar longitude
81.2°, Northern Spring

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North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  41.4°
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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.