Skip to comments.'Cave entrances' spotted on Mars
Posted on 03/17/2007 12:10:07 PM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu
Scientists studying pictures from Nasa's Odyssey spacecraft have spotted what they think may be seven caves on the surface of Mars.
The candidate caves are on the flanks of the Arsia Mons volcano and are of sufficient depth their floors mostly cannot be seen through the opening.
Details were presented here at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas.
Temperature data from Mars Odyssey's Themis instrument support the idea.
The authors say that the possible discovery of caves on the Red Planet is significant.
The caves may be the only natural structures capable of protecting primitive life forms from micrometeoroids, UV radiation, solar flares and high energy particles that bombard the planet's surface.
The spacecraft spotted what seemed to be vertical "skylight" entrances to caves below the surface.
There is a sheer drop of between about 80m and 130m or more to the cave floors below.
During the day, one of the features - nicknamed "Annie" - is warmer than surrounding pits and cooler than sunlit areas.
Night time temperatures are warmer than nearly all surrounding areas.
Co-author Glen Cushing, from the US Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona, said this was exactly what would be expected if the feature were a cave.
"Nothing like these features has been seen elsewhere on Mars," he told BBC News.
The researchers describe the candidate caves as "seven sisters" and have given them all names: Dena, Chloe, Wendy, Annie, Abbey, Nicki and Jeanne.
The cave entrances are between 100m and 252m wide (330-828ft).
Because in most cases the cave floors cannot be seen, only minimum depths are known: the researchers calculated they must extend between 73m and 96m (240-315ft) below the surface.
However, in one image taken of Dena by the Mars Odyssey Camera, a floor can be seen.
Using the data, the authors calculated that this cave must extend 130m (426ft) below the surface.
Mars Odyssey was launched in April 2001 to hunt for past or present water on the Red Planet.
Its Themis (Thermal Emission Imaging System) instrument uses the visible and infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum to measure the temperature properties of the Martian surface.
In some of those caves they will find shrines containing various bits of hardware that has been sent to Mars over the years.
One of the Planet of the Apes sequels?
Of course, there's always the worry that "Martians Want Women!" but I just bought a DVD that shouts, "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!"
Of course my theory is that these caves are where the Leprechauns hid their Gold!!!!
Happy St Declan's Day!
The hunt for bin Laden continues.
'Cave entrances' spotted on Mars
Posted on 03/17/2007 4:05:05 AM EDT by BlackJack
And that doesn't include any missions/craft/instruments/features named in years prior to 2007.
I can see your house from here.
Smoke from the chimney? LOL.
Thanks for the image. The caves are ice-formed tubes that have broken through to the surface and the ice evaporated. There are many examples on Mars, some with some ice still in them.
It looked like a glass structure , segmented like a worm.
The ice must melt quickly once exposed to the surface, and there must be a gusher for a while and the overburden collapses into the drift. Interesting stuff. Nasa is obviously investigating outpost sites or how to select an outpost site, but by the time they get there years hence, the water in these tubes will likley have disappeared.
Context Images for these strips: Left MOC Frame No. R11-02729, Right THEMIS-VIS image No. V01028006 & MOC Context locations
The mountain photo on the right could be a lava tube series running from the caldera down to the base of the volcanic structure. That one looks like a caldera cave, not a water /ice tube.
The photo on the left is a pit, but it has what looks like water born sediment residue on the bottom. Maybe partly filled with water at one time?
I wonder how much seeps down into the substrata as opposed to evaporation?
Great pictures. Appreciated.
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