Scaled Image

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/ASU

About this image

The Cerberus feature is a relatively dark region at the southeastern edge of the huge Elysium Mons volcanic complex. It was visible to early astronomers of Mars because it was a distinctive dark spot on a large bright region of the planet. Today we recognize that the Cerberus region encompasses a range of geologic terrains from relatively young and smooth lava flows to the very rugged, ancient eroded landscape seen in this THEMIS image. The Cerberus feature has also proven to be ephemeral. Compared to just 20 years ago when the Viking orbiter instruments viewed the planet, the Cerberus feature has shrunk down from its original length of roughly 1000 kilometers to just a few isolated dark splotches of just a few 100 kilometers. This is testament to the active eolian environment on Mars where global dust storms can lift and then later deposit significant amounts of dust, brightening formerly dark surfaces. The THEMIS image occurs in a portion of Cerberus that remains relatively dark and dust-free although in the bottommost portion of the image are faint, criss-crossing lines that likely are dust devil tracks. The abundant dune-like features covering many of the low, smooth surfaces are similar to those found in many places across the planet. They are evidence of the interaction of wind and movable particles at the surface but not necessarily in today's environment. In many other places on Mars they are clearly inactive; relicts of a different climate.

Please see the THEMIS Data Citation Note for details on crediting THEMIS images. 


Image ID: 
V01280009 (View data in Mars Image Explorer)
2002-03-29 16:51
Wed, 2002-04-24
1024 pixels (18 km)
3648 pixels (66 km)
0.018118 km/pixel
0.01825 km/pixel


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