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Western flank of Olympus Mons (black and white)
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- Title Western flank of Olympus Mons (black and white)
- Released 20/04/2004 3:52 pm
- Copyright ESA/DLR/FU (G. Neukum)
This image was taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on ESA's Mars Express during orbit 143 from an altitude of 266 kilometres. This image was taken with a resolution of about 25 metres per pixel and centred at 222° East and 22° North. North is to the right.
The image shows the western flank of the shield volcano Olympus Mons in the Tharsis region of the western Martian hemisphere. The escarpment at lower left rises from the surface level to over 7000 metres. At the top of the image, part of the extensive plains west of the escarpment are shown, known as the 'aureole' (from the Latin for 'circle of light').
To the north and west of the volcano, these 'aureole' deposits are regions of gigantic ridges and blocks extending some 1000 kilometres from the summit like petals of a flower. The origin of the deposits has challenged planetary scientists for an explanation for decades.
The most persistent explanation, however, has been landslides. Large masses of shield material can be found in the aureole area. Several indications also suggest a development and resurfacing connected to glacial activity.