Friday, July 20, 2012

Curious Hole on Mars

This is seriously unusual. Presume that the dusty cover is a thick layer of volcanic ash. Presume lava tunnels underlying the ash. Presume a hole appears in a weak point on the lava tube. Then this is plausible and it is really neat.

We have seen other apparent lava tubes and all are prospective for the establishment of an initial human refugia in space. It provides natural protection against the radiation and particle flux that will surely be a serious concern to exploration teams.

What is clear is that once expeditions begin again , we need to plan for penetration of these oddities to discover if they can be used for permanent habitation. It would be simple to seal off a tube and to introduce an atmosphere and perhaps establish a plant based ecology.

Curious hole on Mars

Explanation: What created this unusual hole in Mars? The hole was discovered by chance on images of the dusty slopes of Mars' Pavonis Mons volcano taken by the HiRISE instrument aboard the robotic Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter currently circling Mars. The hole appears to be an opening to an underground cavern, partly illuminated on the image right. Analysis of this and follow-up images revealed the opening to be about 35 meters across, while the interior shadow angle indicates that the underlying cavern is roughly 20 meters deep. Why there is a circular crater surrounding this hole remains a topic of speculation, as is the full extent of the underlying cavern. Holes such as this are of particular interest because their interior caves are relatively protected from the harsh surface of Mars, making them relatively good candidates to contain Martian life. These pits are therefore prime targets for possible future spacecraft, robots, and even human interplanetary explorers. 

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