Elysium Lava Plains and Craters
Elysium Lava Plains and Craters
ESP_078208_1810  Science Theme: Volcanic Processes
This area of Mars was once a volcanic plain. The surface here is not dissimilar to volcanic plains on the Earth, where large sheets of lava cover the landscape. Just like on the Earth, you can also see the evidence for individual lava flows and pools of lava, long since cooled into interesting shapes.

Unlike on Earth, there are lots of craters on this lava plain, and you might notice that some of the craters have dark interiors and a spray of darker material around them, but most don't. This difference is telling you something about the difference in age of these craters. These lava flows are composed of dark rock, but lighter-colored dust blows everywhere on Mars (and shows as gray in our black and white images). So old structures and craters have been blanketed in a layer of dust. But when a new crater forms, it punches a hole into the dark lava rock underneath, and so fresh craters on this landscape will have dark interiors showing fresh rock, but over time, the dust will blow around and coat those craters, too.

Some larger craters in this scene have a dark interior, not because they are young or fresh, but because they are big enough to have slightly steeper slopes and so even though dust is blown into the crater, fresh dark lava rock avalanches to the floor or is eroded into dark sand that stays in the crater.

Written by: Ross Beyer  (21 July 2023)

Acquisition date
03 April 2023

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
272.0 km (169.1 miles)

Original image scale range
54.4 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
48°, with the Sun about 42° above the horizon

Solar longitude
45.8°, Northern Spring

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  29.7°
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   (573MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (317MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (355MB)
non-map           (395MB)

IRB color
map projected  (160MB)
non-map           (328MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (684MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (642MB)

RGB color
non map           (306MB)
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.