This observation shows large mounds that may represent hydrothermal diapirism in a lacustrine (lake) setting, possibly involving fluid movement from great depth. “Diapirism” is a process where a more mobile (and deformable) material is forced up onto overlying material, hence the mounds. An easy point of reference for this process is something most people have seen: a lava lamp.
One of the justifications for this observation is to assess landing/roving hazards and morphology. Additionally, HiRISE has a stereo pair and an anaglyph that helps determine morphology and mineralogy of the mounds and the suitability of a future landing ellipse. This observation also underscores how landing sites are chosen: a safe place to land and explore that is also scientifically compelling.
This caption is based on the original science rationale.
Written by: HiRISE Science Team (11 May 2011)
This is a stereo pair with ESP_021642_2135 .
More info and image formats at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_021919_2135
Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona