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Cerberus Fossae

Highlighted Portion of HiRISE Image TRA_000827_1875

The prominent trough in this sub-image (of HiRISE image TRA_000827_1875_RED [below]) is a segment of the Cerberus Fossae rift system. In geological terminology the trough is known as a graben, or down-dropped region bounded by faults. In this location the graben is about 300 m wide and 90 m deep. Bright, dust-covered, cratered plains surround the graben, and darker sediments blanket much of its floor. Dunes that vary in size and spacing occur within the darker sediments, and their shapes suggest that the wind typically blows from east to west. Light-toned, angular boulders pepper the darker sediments. They have broken away from the rocky walls of the graben and tumbled downhill. Over time this mass wasting has caused the cliffs to retreat, widening the trough. The somewhat lighter patches of cratered terrain on the graben floor were once level with the surrounding plains, but have since been lowered by faulting. Over time they may become obscured or buried by the darker sediments. High-standing ridges—remnants of the former surface—cast jagged shadows on the floor of the graben that reveal the rugged nature of the landscape in this region of Mars.

Image TRA_000827_1875 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on September 29, 2006. The complete image is centered at 7.5 degrees latitude, 168.5 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 275.4 km (172.1 miles). At this distance the image scale is 55.1 cm/pixel (with 2 x 2 binning) so objects ~165 cm across are resolved. The image shown here [below] has been map-projected to 50 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:26 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 52 degrees, thus the sun was about 38 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 113.7 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.

HiRISE Image TRA_000827_1875

Images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment and additional information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are available online at:




For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.

Image Product Pixel Dimensions File Size
Small JPG 512
Large JPG 2048
Full-Scale JP2 12008
Products for TRA_000827_1875

The highest resolution image is provided in the JPEG-2000 (JP2) format. A JP2 viewer application and browser plug-in may be freely obtained for Mac OS X and Windows platforms: ExpressView by LizardTech, a Celartem Technology Inc. company.

Learn more about HiRISE at these sites: