The NASA Mars Recognition Orbiter (MRO) sent, last Sunday (21), a strange image captured on the surface of the red planet: a black “spot” 180 meters in diameter that, after being analyzed, revealed to be a deep well .
Taken by the MRO’s HiRise camera, the photos were investigated by researchers at the University of Arizona who, to understand the extent of the images, made adjustments to the brightness of the pixels, until they perceived a “rough wall east of the moat”, said geophysicist Ross Beyer , who concluded: “The well floor appears to be smooth sand and goes down to the southeast”.
According to Beyer, who maintains a blog with MRO events, the question now is whether this deep crack is isolated or whether it is connected to a network of underground tunnels left behind by fast flowing lava channels, such as “ skylights ”of lava tubes from Hawaii volcanoes in the USA.
This suspicion that ancient volcanoes might have existed on Mars is already an ancient hypothesis of the researchers. If these caves do exist, it is possible that they may even be large enough to house complete planetary bases, providing shelter for future colonizers on the planet.
It is not the first time that NASA has recorded these alleged “skylights” as described by Beyer. In 2012, for example, the MRO sent photos of some of these holes, near the volcano Pavonis Mons, which refer to the existence of caves up to 225 meters wide.
The good news is that NASA is already working with drones, like Ingenuity (which is currently in the “belly” of Perseverance already on Martian soil), which could theoretically be used in a future mapping of these caves, without a rover risk falling into the depths of a giant hole.