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A mysterious 'hole' in Martian soil could provide shelter for astronauts

A mysterious 'hole' in Martian soil could provide shelter for astronauts

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Is it a deep “hole” in the Martian soil or a shallow “pit”? Does the depression lead to a cave or system of lava tubes? The image taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft in August 2022 leaves many questions unanswered. (File photo) © NASA/JPL-Caltech/UArizona

A NASA spacecraft takes an image of a “hole” on the surface of Mars. Depending on where the hole leads, it could be important for space travel.

Washington, DC – The American space organization NASA is considering sending people to Mars in the future. Billionaire Elon Musk even wants to colonize the Red Planet, which is the main reason he founded his space company SpaceX and is currently developing the giant spaceship “Starship”. But Mars is a difficult place for humans: there is no oxygen in the air, no liquid water, and the radiation can be deadly. There's also a lot that research doesn't know about Mars.

One current example illustrates this very impressively: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) space probe captured an image of the Red Planet in August 2022, which is currently making headlines. It appears that a “hole” can be seen in the Martian soil in the black and white image taken by the HiRISE camera. You can't see how deep the hole is in the photo, but the photo makes a noise. Taken near the dormant Arsia Mons volcano. According to NASA, the hole is a few meters in diameter.

Hole in Mars: Does it lead to a cave or lava tube system?

“This image was taken to determine whether a core void and associated faults were observed in this part of Arsia Mons,” one reads. University of Arizona websiteWhich publishes “HiRISE” recordings. “Crates can indicate geologically ancient tectonic or volcanic activity.”

If the hole actually ends in a cavity or cave, it may be of interest not only to geologists, but to them as well Space travel. “The associated caves are likely to be targets for future robotic exploration,” says the University of Arizona.

Caves on Mars could provide shelter for humans

In fact, caves on Mars could become important for astronauts: they could provide protection on Mars from the inhospitable environment and deadly radiation. It is also possible that microscopic life that once existed on Mars found shelter in such craters and may have survived there.

Many of these “craters” have already been discovered on Mars from orbit. Researchers suspect that the holes in the volcanic region around Arsia Mons could lead to underground lava tubes, a remnant of Mars' volcanic past.

Such “craters” have also been found on Earth – for example, near Hawaiian volcanoes. However, the holes there are not connected to caves or lava tubes. Only an on-site search will be able to show what the “holes” on Mars are. It will be many years before humans land on Mars for the first time. (unpaid bill)

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