Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Caves on Mars?

These two deep pits on Mars are getting a lot of attention these days as possible caves. One is 600 feet (180 meters) in diameter, the other 1,000 feet (310 meters). The Mars Odyssey spacecraft first recorded these last year using its infrared camera, THEMIS. So NASA sent the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to take these images in visual light.

"When compared to the surrounding surface, the dark interiors of the holes gave off heat at night but were cool by day," said Alfred McEwen, principal investigator on the HiRISE camera. "So we then decided to target these with MRO because this thermal information may be evidence for these being caves—but the jury is still out on that."

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