Dark Spot Near Olmpus Mons Volcano
Dark Spot Near Olmpus Mons Volcano
PSP_009502_1980  Science Theme: Mass Wasting Processes
This image covers a relatively dark-toned patch of ground west of the Olympus Mons volcano. This spot is one of several dark areas in this region of Mars.

These dark spots are distinctive because much of the surrounding area appears to be covered by light-toned dust. In pre-HiRISE images, the origin of this dark spot was ambiguous. This HiRISE image reveals that the dark color is likely the result of accumulations of basaltic sand (smooth, blue-colored material in the color swath) on top of otherwise relatively dust-free bedrock.

Evidence of layering is also visible within the dark (blue) area. There are alternating bands of lighter- and darker-toned material, consistent with alternating layers of bedrock. These alternating bands are not apparent outside of the dark area. This may mean that alternating layers of bedrock only occur within the dark area, or that these bedrock layers occur throughout the region but are covered and obscured by light-toned dust outside of the dark area.

Written by: chriso  (24 September 2008)

This is a stereo pair with ESP_015950_1980.
Acquisition date
05 August 2008

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
280.3 km (174.2 miles)

Original image scale range
56.1 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~168 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
108.6°, Northern Summer

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  22.6°
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Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
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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.