NASA has published a sheer batch of striking images from Mars. Some photographs were taken from orbit by satellites such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, while others were taken on the surface of the planet by the various rovers exploring the alien, albeit familiar landscape.
Some images from Mars—especially those taken from orbit—are very unusual. NASA recently shared one image, and it shows a strange hole in the martian surface.
Precisely there in the mysterious opening is where experts say alien life could thrive even today.
The image shared by NAMSA seems to show a massive hole in the Martian surface, which probably is the entrance to a large subterranean world. Beneath the surface could be a complex system of caverns that could, in principle, help protect primitive forms of life on Mars.
The image of the strange opening was identified by astronomers back in 2011. It belongs to a batch of images taken from orbit of the slopes of Mars’ Pavonis Mons volcano by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
When experts spotted the strange hole on Mars, NASA decided it should conduct further studies of the area. The analysis revealed that the hole is actually an opening to a cavern at least 20 meters deep.
Although such an opening should not be strange or particularly interesting, NASA could not find a satisfying explanation for the circular crater that surrounds the hole. Experts could also not accurately estimate how far the underlying cavern might extend.
Such holes, and caverns, in particular, are of great importance and interest for astrobiologists because their interior could provide a heaven for life to exist far away from Mars’ harsh surface conditions.
“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,” NASA explained in the description of the Astronomy Picture of the Day page, where the image was originally shared.
“These pits are therefore prime targets for future spacecraft, robots, and even human interplanetary explorers,” NASA explained.
Such an opening on the surface of Mars could provide a much-needed harbor for life to possibly evolve on Mars. Microorganisms could survive within the depths of the red planet, shielded from the hazardous conditions on the surface of the planet.
Since the image was taken nine years ago, the MRO has continued circling the planet, taking new images of the surface of Mars. A great number of similar structures have been discovered since then.
Experts continue exploring the surface of Mars, looking for potential underground habitats on Mars. Although researchers have so far not found conclusive evidence that there’s life on the Martian surface, it doesn’t mean Mars is void of life.
There are great probabilities that Mars could support life today, and chances are such life-forms are hidden away deep beneath the surface.
Besides the possibility that such underground caverns could host life as we know it, researchers say that structures beneath the surface of the planet could be useful places for future manned explorations to Mars.
Such underground shelters could offer future astronauts refuge from the harsh Martian environment. Underground cavities on Mars could also offer astronauts much-needed materials to survive on the red planet.
Subterranean structures on Mars could also offer important insight into the planet’s past. Leftovers from previous epochs on Mars could remain hidden beneath the surface. Such data is of great importance to understanding the history of Mars and whether or not the red planet was once teeming with life.