This observation was taken to investigate the topography near the source of fluids from the Cerberus Fossae fractures in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars.
There are distinct channels carved into the terrain here, presumably by floods of water. However, the terrain is coated with lava, and this situation–where flood-eroded channels are completely coated with lava–is seen in many parts of Mars.
This leads some researchers to suggest that the channels were actually carved by the flowing lava, and that there was no flood of water. Images like these are helping to test these ideas.
Written by: Laszlo Kestay (11 April 2012)
This is a stereo pair with ESP_026158_1945 .
More info and image formats at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_026303_1945
Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona