Pit Craters and Giant Volcanoes
Pit Craters and Giant Volcanoes
ESP_065887_1660  Science Theme: Volcanic Processes
Some types of lava can squeeze underneath older rock and lift it up so it can continue to flow underground. Large underground rivers of lava can form this way and when the volcano stops erupting, the lava can drain out of these underground tubes. These empty underground tubes are common on the Earth and may criss-cross the giant volcanoes of Mars like in this location on the flanks of Arsia Mons.

In this image, the ceiling of the lava tube collapsed in one spot and made this pit crater. The pit is about 50 meters (150 feet) across, so it’s likely that the underground tube is also at least this big (much bigger than similar caves on the Earth). HiRISE can’t see inside these steep pits because it’s always late afternoon when we pass overhead and the inside is shadowed at that time of day.

Written by: Shane Byrne   (8 October 2020)
Acquisition date
16 August 2020

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
250.5 km (155.7 miles)

Original image scale range
25.1 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~75 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
48°, with the Sun about 42° above the horizon

Solar longitude
259.4°, Northern Autumn

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  344.7°
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   (395MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (225MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (177MB)
non-map           (237MB)

IRB color
map projected  (60MB)
non-map           (196MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (118MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (115MB)

RGB color
non map           (192MB)
10K (TIFF)

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.