Mantled Surface of Ascraeus Mons
Mantled Surface of Ascraeus Mons
PSP_002196_1920  Science Theme: Rocks and Regolith
This image shows a part of the western flank of Ascraeus Mons. Ascraeus Mons is one of the giant volcanoes of the Tharsis volcanic region of Mars.

It is a shield volcano, so named because of the gently-sloped round shape. Terrestrial examples, like Mauna Loa and Kilauea on Hawaii, are formed mostly by repeated eruptions of fluid (basaltic) lava. Martian volcanoes can attain much larger sizes partiallly because Mars lacks plate tectonics, allowing eruptions to persist at the same site for a long time.

In this HiRISE image, the surface is covered by a mantle of dusty material which obscured the underlying surface. This has been sculpted into regular textures, probably by aeolian (wind) erosion. It appears that there are multiple layers, as the southeast portion of the image shows textured knobs standing above a similarly patterned surface. The origin of the dusty mantle is unclear. It could be wind-blown dust, but it is also possible that some of it is volcanic ash erupted from Ascraeus Mons.

Written by: Colin Dundas  (14 February 2007)

This is a stereo pair with PSP_002618_1920.
Acquisition date
14 January 2007

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
267.7 km (166.4 miles)

Original image scale range
54.3 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
54°, with the Sun about 36° above the horizon

Solar longitude
166.6°, Northern Summer

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North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  4.7°
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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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.