This image shows an impact crater that was cut by lava in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars. The relatively flat, shallow floor, rough surface texture, and possible cooling cracks seem to indicate that the crater was partially filled with lava. The northern part of the image also shows a more extensive lava flow deposit that surrounds the impact ejecta of the largest impact crater in the image.
Which way did the lava flow? It might appear that the lava flowed from the north through the channel into the partially filled crater. However, if you look at the anaglyph with your red and blue 3D glasses , it becomes clear that the partially filled crater sits on top of the large crater’s ejecta blanket, making it higher than the lava flow to the north. Since lava does not flow uphill, that means the explanation isn’t so simple.
We have seen much evidence for lava flows in this region that flowed to much higher levels than the present surface, then deflated or drained away. That may have happened here: lava flowed from from north to south to fill this crater, but then it drained back to the north, carving this channel.
The topographic information that we gained from having a stereo pair let us answer a question that we could not have with only a single image. This is a great example of why we take stereo images, where the two images are used to make a 3D image.
Written by: HiRISE Targeting Specialists (29 October 2014)
This is a stereo pair with ESP_025631_1825 .
More info and image formats at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_035969_1825
Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona