Categories: Mars

What Lies Beneath

[/caption]

What would make a great home for a giant Martian ant lion? I’d have to say this pit, imaged by the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter!

Earlier this year a crater was spotted with a dark spot at its center. When the team took a closer look with the high-resolution camera they saw that the spot is actually a 35-meter (115-foot) -wide skylight that opens into an underground cavern. The cavern is most likely a section of an empty lava tube, leftovers from ancient Martian volcanic activity.

Detail of the skylight

Based on the shadows it’s estimated that the pit is about 20 meters (65 feet) deep. But, how much of that is material piled up on the floor of the cavern from the surrounding crater itself? And what caused the crater to form in the first place? These are questions that remain to be answered.

The HiRISE image itself is false-color, the hues denoting the texture and composition of the surface material and not the actual color as would be seen in visible light.

As far as a giant Martian ant lion… well, unless there are some giant Martian ants around for it to snack on, I’m going to assume there’s nobody home!

Image credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona.

Jason Major

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Recent Posts

Astronauts Can Now Watch 4K Streaming Video on the Station

We take high definition streaming for granted in many parts of the world. Even now,…

14 hours ago

The Shelf Life of Many Medications Is Shorter Than A Round Trip To Mars

Check any container of over-the-counter medicine, and you'll see its expiration date. Prescription medicines have…

14 hours ago

Astronomers Have Tools That Can Help Detect Deepfake Images

There's a burgeoning arms race between Artificial Intelligence (AI) deepfake images and the methods used…

18 hours ago

A Pair of CubeSats Using Ground Penetrating Radar Could Map The Interior of Near Earth Asteroids

Characterizing near-Earths asteroids (NEAs) is critical if we hope to eventually stop one from hitting…

18 hours ago

New Horizons Measures the Background Light of the Universe

Think about background radiation and most people immediately think of the cosmic background radiation and…

1 day ago

Next Generation Event Horizon Telescope To Unlock Mysteries of Black Holes

The prospect of actually resolving the event horizon of black holes feels like the stuff…

2 days ago