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Mysterious ‘HOLE’ on Mars grabs eyeballs

Photo Source: NASA/JPL–Caltech/UArizona

Dust storms and temperature fluctuations are reportedly common on Mars. As humans prepare to explore the planet, a mysterious pit on the side of an ancient Martian volcano has sparked excitement among space enthusiasts.

The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured an image of this pit, located on the extinct Arsia Mons volcano, in August 2022. The pit is only a few meters wide.

Typically, lava flowing from a volcano creates large underground tubes that allow the movement of hot material. These tubes, known as skylights, are common openings on the sides of volcanoes. However, this particular pit appears to be a vertical shaft, which could potentially lead to a cavern or cave system. Similar to those on the Moon or Earth, such empty lava tubes on Mars could serve as shelters for human settlements.

Despite this, an image of one of the pits reveals a sidewall, suggesting it is cylindrical and may not lead to a cave. These types of holes, known as ‘pit craters,’ are common on Hawaiian volcanoes and can range from six to 186 meters deep on Earth. The depth of the Arsia Mons pit is 178 metres. Scientists are intrigued by these pits because they might offer clues about past life on Mars and help determine if microbial life still exists on the planet.

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