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Space & Astronomy

Mysterious cave on Mars prompts speculation

By T.K. Randall
March 3, 2020 · Comment icon 22 comments

Could there be life forms sheltering within this cave ? Image Credit: NASA / JPL / U. Arizona
NASA has released a fascinating photograph showing a large cave entrance on the slopes of a Martian volcano.
Posted up on March 1st as NASA's 'Astronomy Picture of the Day', this remarkably clear image of the slopes of Mars' Pavonis Mons volcano shows a depression in the ground with an opening at the bottom that drops into a subterranean cavern.

The photograph was captured by the HiRISE instrument aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which has been orbiting the Red Planet for more than 14 years.

According to the article, the cave opening measures 35 meters across and descends 20 meters down.
Exactly how it formed, as well as what might lie inside, remains a complete mystery.

"Why there is a circular crater surrounding this hole remains a topic of speculation, as is the full extent of the underlying cavern," NASA wrote.

"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."

Source: | Comments (22)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by Twin 4 years ago
Spider trap, if I ever saw one.
Comment icon #14 Posted by SpaceBumZaphod 4 years ago
It's a baby Sarlac. 
Comment icon #15 Posted by jethrofloyd 4 years ago
It's just a Matt Damon's summer cottage.  
Comment icon #16 Posted by Harte 4 years ago
It hides an archive of great worth Concealed within this cavern's girth. For stored in that spot Are satellite shots Of the puzzling face on the Earth. Harte
Comment icon #17 Posted by Ruth Rodriguez 4 years ago
It doesn't really look like a cave; it looks like red soil in the middle of this crater.
Comment icon #18 Posted by tmcom 4 years ago
There is a coke can down there, but that is about all.
Comment icon #19 Posted by seetheSeeker 4 years ago
If a large hill formed due to previous volcanic activity, then one can assume an old volcanic shaft that was once covered over caved in.
Comment icon #20 Posted by bison 4 years ago
The text from the original post and link suggest that why the cave exists, and why it has a circular depression around it are mysteries. It actually looks fairly simple. Lava drained out of the Pavonis Mons volcano ages ago, creating a lava tube beneath the surface, just as volcanoes very often do on Earth. At some point a section of the roof of the cave collapsed. The hole let the fine surface dust filter into the cave, leaving the depression behind. Perhaps the entrance to the cave opened up fairly recently, since not enough dust has fallen in to fill up the area of the cave near the hole,... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Nnicolette 4 years ago How many caves do you need just go inside already!
Comment icon #22 Posted by XenoFish 4 years ago
I've got to correct you.

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