Mars Pits

Stuff like this ispretty interesting because it provides an obvious landing target for futuremissions.

The structure maywell provide a superior site for a manned base than out on open plains whichare often a bad idea on our own world. Craters serve the same purpose, but a deep site that may even be part ofa tunnel is highly attractive for building in. It may be also a great spot to accumulate sublimated water.  It will at least be a better controlled environment.

It is also differentthan anything else we are likely see.

Giant Mars Pits Revealed in Sharp Detail

Mars Caves?
Imagecourtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Looking like space slug hidey-holes,huge pits gouge a bright, dusty plain near the Martianvolcano Ascraeus Monsin a picture taken between October 1 and November 1 by NASA's MarsReconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

Released in December, theimage is among a series of new views snapped by MRO's HiRISE camera that showintriguing geological features on Mars. Each image covers a strip of Martianground 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) wide and can reveal a detail about as small asa desk—and so far no sign of StarWars monsters.

MRO's sister orbiter, Mars Odyssey, first noticed the two deeppits—which are about 590 feet (180 meters) and 1,017 feet (310 meters),respectively—a year earlier using its infrared camera, THEMIS. (Related: "Seven Great Mars Pictures From Record-BreakingProbe.")

"When compared to thesurrounding surface, the dark interiors of the holes gave off heat at night butwere cool by day," said Alfred McEwen,principal investigator on the HiRISE camera.

"So we then decided totarget these with MRO because this thermal information may be evidence forthese being caves—but the jury is still out on that."

The MRO has been studyingMars since 2006, beaming back more data than all other past and currentmissions to the planet combined.
—Andrew Fazekas
Published December 21, 2010

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