Recently released photographs from NASA depict the breathtaking views of a previous lava flows on Mars that rival the beauty of Niagara Falls on Earth. The new 3D images, sent back from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, also called MRO, show that molten lava once flowed across the Martian surface. The MRO was launched in August of 2005 and has been in the science observation orbiting phase since November 2006.
Many times the focus of data collection from Mars is squarely pointed at finding water or indications of water, which could be taken as proof of life on the Red Planet. But these images show that the very ground itself was alive previously when the lava moved across the surface.
The beautiful frozen falls are located on western side of the Tharsis volcanic province and surround the northern side of a 30-kilometer crater. The lava runs up to the crater rim and overflows in some areas to create multi-level cascades. In the images, the lava flows have a rougher texture than the original crater features, which appear smooth in comparison.
From the images, it is clear that there was not enough lava to fill the crater but instead, it pools on top of older, chalkier looking lava deposits in the bottom of the crater basin.
Although these lava flows, frozen in time, suspended mid-cascade, can be compared to the impressive waterfalls at Niagara, they also resemble are the equally stunning volcanic flows of Hawaii.
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