Mysterious hole on the surface of Mars leaves scientists perplexed

Mysterious hole on the surface of Mars leaves scientists perplexed
Mysterious hole on the surface of Mars leaves scientists perplexed

Reading time: 2 minutes – Spotted on Science Alert

In 2022, NASA took a photo of a mysterious hole on the surface of our neighboring planet, Mars. The image was taken by the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Scientific Experiment) camera attached to the MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) probe. The hole, a few meters in diameter, is located not far from Arsia Mons, an inactive volcano.

Scientists are now wondering whether this hole might lead to a larger cave beneath the surface of Mars. If the Red Planet is anything like Earth or the Moon, this cave could be part of large underground lava tubes. According to online news outlet Science Alert, collapsed sections of these tubes, called “skylights” or skylights, could serve as shelters for future human visitors to Mars.

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An elusive testimony to past volcanic activity

Arsia Mons is located in the Tharsis region, a volcanic plain that extends for thousands of kilometers. Compared to the rest of the surface of Mars, this region is located about 10 kilometers above sea level. The hole is a direct result of past volcanic activity in the Tharsis region.

At the current state of research, it is impossible to say whether it is really a skylight or an entrance to a lava tunnel system. Other photos of the hole show an illuminated side wall, suggesting that it could also simply be a cylindrical-shaped hole.

There are similar vents on Hawaiian volcanoes; these are pit craters. These form when very deep underground fissures occur after an eruption. These cracks eventually reach the surface, which collapses. This results in a hole, perhaps like the one in the photo of Mars.

There are plenty of other holes on the Red Planet that are just as exciting. The video above, for example, shows an orifice on the Martian volcano Pavis Mons, also recorded by the HiRISE camera. Under the entrance, there is a sort of empty space whose nature is difficult to understand. Maybe one day robots will be able to explore these holes from the inside for us.

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