Exposed Light Material in Upland Region in Aureum Chaos
Exposed Light Material in Upland Region in Aureum Chaos
ESP_017581_1765  Science Theme: Geologic Contacts/Stratigraphy
The plateau visible in this image is located within Aureum Chaos. Chaotic terrains on Mars are blocky, fractured regions of flat-topped hills, plateaus, plains, and depressions thought to have formed by the collapse of the heavily cratered uplands.

Large outflow channels appear to emerge from Aureum Chaos and other chaotic terrains leading researchers to posit that these large collapse regions were formed by the catastrophic release of ground water. Aureum Chaos is located just to the northeast of Valles Marineris adjacent to Margaritifer Terra, and it has a diameter of approximately 368 kilometers.

The steep-sided plateau in this image has a sharp, undulating surface possibly etched out and eroded by persistent winds. These same winds may well have transported the resulting sediment to the surrounding plains helping to form the dunes below. The plateau slopes are steep and consist of a series of parallel bright, more resistant cliff forming layers and darker, less resistant slope material. A good way to see the differences in color between the plateau's bright layered deposits and the surrounding area is to look at some of the blocks that have fallen off the cliff onto the the dark sands below.

By studying areas of Mars such as this one, researchers hope to understand how the chaos regions formed and how their formation related to the release of ground water to form the outflow channels, if indeed the two are connected in this way.

Written by: Shawn Hart and Ginny Gulick  (2 June 2010)
Acquisition date
27 April 2010

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
270.5 km (168.1 miles)

Original image scale range
27.1 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~81 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
56°, with the Sun about 34° above the horizon

Solar longitude
83.1°, Northern Spring

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  40.0°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (857MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (405MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (411MB)
non-map           (397MB)

IRB color
map projected  (129MB)
non-map           (375MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (198MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (190MB)

RGB color
non map           (367MB)
B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

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.