In the Wake of Ancient Lava Flows
In the Wake of Ancient Lava Flows
ESP_075360_1840  Science Theme: Volcanic Processes
Long ago, a large lava flow passed through the Athabasca Valles region of Mars. We can tell which direction it was flowing by examining the surface of the flow and the remaining “lava wakes.”

Although you can’t sail a boat on a sea of lava, hills and craters that stick up higher than the lava flow act like barriers. When a boat is driven through the water, there is a bow wave at the front of the boat, and a wake that trails off behind that indicates which way the boat is moving. In a lava flow, when a hill sticks up, the lava piles up on the upstream side (just like a bow wave) and can leave a wake on the downstream side, so we can tell which way the lava was moving against the stationary hill.

This image has a large crater and some nearby smaller hills. The large crater has a pile up of lava on one side, but is so big that it doesn’t really have a clear wake. However, there are smaller hills with lava pileup that have beautiful linear features trailing off in the same direction. These lava wakes show us which direction the lava was moving against these hills.

Written by: Ross Beyer  (19 October 2022)
Acquisition date
24 August 2022

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
272.4 km (169.3 miles)

Original image scale range
54.5 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~163 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
50 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
47°, with the Sun about 43° above the horizon

Solar longitude
291.2°, Northern Winter

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  328.6°
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   (308MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (166MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (141MB)
non-map           (198MB)

IRB color
map projected  (65MB)
non-map           (172MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (347MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (324MB)

RGB color
non map           (163MB)
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.