An Enigmatic Feature in Athabasca Lava Flows
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
An Enigmatic Feature in Athabasca Lava Flows
ESP_038646_1805  Science Theme: Volcanic Processes
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What is this enigmatic landform?

The circular feature is nearly 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) wide. It looks like a circular island surrounded by a “sea” of smooth-looking lava flows. The Athabasca region contains some of the youngest lava flows on Mars. Therefore, it is highly possible that volcanism played a role in creating this feature.

Perhaps lava has intruded underneath this mound and pushed it up from beneath. It looks as if material is missing from the mound, so it is also possible that there was a significant amount of ice in the mound that was driven out by the heat of the lava. There are an array of features like this in the region that continue to puzzle scientists.

We hope that close inspection of this HiRISE image, and others around it, will provide some clues regarding its formation.

Written by: M. Ramy El-Maarry (audio: Tre Gibbs)  (3 December 2014)
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Acquisition date
24 October 2014

Local Mars time:
15:32

Latitude (centered)
0.276°

Longitude (East)
159.253°

Range to target site
293.4 km (183.4 miles)

Original image scale range
58.7 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~176 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection
Equirectangular

Emission angle:
24.0°

Phase angle:
78.5°

Solar incidence angle
55°, with the Sun about 35° above the horizon

Solar longitude
220.5°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  96°
Sub-solar azimuth:  345.0°
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NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

POSTSCRIPT
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.