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NASA Mars Orbiter Spots Caves on Red Planet

Mars-pits-larger_30636_600x450 Huge pits or caves pumcture a bright, dusty plain near the Martian volcano Ascraeus Mons in an image  taken between October 1 and November 1 by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Caves and other underground structures, including lava tubes, and canyon overhangs would be potentially useful for manned missions to the Red Planet, providing shielding from both the elements and intense radiation that a Mars mission would expose astronauts to. They might also offer access to minerals, gases, ices, and any subterranean life that the crew of such a mission would probably be searching for.

Released in December, the image is among a series of new views snapped by MRO's HiRISE camera that show intriguing geological features on Mars. Each image covers a strip of Martian ground 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) wide and can reveal a detail about as small as a desk—and so far no sign of Star Wars monsters.

MRO's sister orbiter, Mars Odyssey, first noticed the two deep pits—which are about 590 feet (180 meters) and 1,017 feet (310 meters), —a year earlier using its infrared camera, THEMIS.

"When compared to the surrounding surface, the dark interiors of the holes gave off heat at night but were cool by day," said Alfred McEwen, principal investigator on the HiRISE camera. "So we then decided to target these with MRO because this thermal information may be evidence for these being caves—but the jury is still out on that."

The MRO has been studying Mars since 2006, beaming back more data than all other past and current missions to the planet combined.

Mars-pits-overview_30639_600x450


The Daily Galaxy

Image courtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Comments

PUMCTURE? Really? Spellcheck anyone?

If I recall correctly, some students found these caves last year when they were studying the satellite photos of mars...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100624141934.htm

It,s nice to have documents & ralated pitchers,don't you thing

I'm a spellcheck

I'm a spellcheck

Heart and keep pushing, keep the pursuit of progress

Methane has been detected in the Martian atmosphere, it could be being produced inside those caves.

There could be a whole anaerobic ecosystem down there including multicellular organisms. Protected from radiation, if you go deep enough there will be water in a liquid form. If the water down in those caves is sterile, I would be more surprised by the water being sterile vs. finding life in the water. Even our upper atmosphere here on Earth has life living in it. EVERY environment no matter how hostile has life in it here on Earth. During the Early years of the Solar System asteroids were common and matter from Earth was frequently shared with Mars including huge dirt chunks with bacteria, spores inside of them. Mars had flowing water possibly than 99% guarantee some organisms from early Earth made it there. Water flows to the lowest point and would have collected in the Caves along with any lifeforms.

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