Monday, October 26, 2009

The Caves of Mars

"Mars Caves Might Protect Microbes (or Astronauts)" (October 26, 2009)

"A series of newly discovered depressions on the Martian surface could be the entrances to a cave system on the red planet.

"Hints of subsurface tunnels have been found in images of Mars before, but the new evidence is more suggestive, said Glen Cushing, a physicist with the U.S. Geological Survey who discovered the possible caves.

"Such a subsurface system could provide shelter to future Mars-visiting astronauts, as well as a protective habitat to any potential past or present Martian microbes, Cushing said...."

These depressions could be collapsed sections of lava tubes, a fairly common feature on Earth - and which could give shelter from radiation on Mars.

The red planet's intriguing in many ways - but between an effectively non-existent magnetic field and really thin atmosphere, a person could get a really bad sunburn without protection. Assuming something to provide oxygen, of course - we won't be walking outside on Mars in our shirtsleeves for quite a while, if ever. (see "Mars: Water? Probably; Life? Eventually" (July 17, 2008)) (I don't remember posting about terraforming - that's an oversight on my part).

Besides being shelters for astronauts - and eventually settlers - lava tubes on Mars, if they exist, could have preserved Martian organisms. Probably microbes - you'd think we'd have spotted anything the size of, say, a buffalo herd, by now.

Or, maybe there are Martian microbes now. One researcher argued, plausibly I think, that the Viking life experiment may have killed Martian microbes, by flooding them with water in concentrations and amounts they weren't able to handle. (See Exploding Martians and the Viking Life Experiment in "Life on Ceres? Could Be" (March 5, 2009))

Of course, those depressions may not be collapsed lava tubes at all. Mars is like Earth in many ways: but it's not Earth. One way or another, though: I think it's worth exploring.

Or, some people may decide they want to build Edgar Rice Burroughs's Barsoom. Think of the possibilities for tourism!
Other posts, about "Mars, Mostly."

Related posts, at

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

Pinterest: From the Man Behind the Lemming

Top 10 Most-Viewed Posts

Today's News! Some of it, anyway

Actually, some of yesterday's news may be here. Or maybe last week's.
The software and science stuff might still be interesting, though. Or not.
The Lemming thinks it's interesting: Your experience may vary.
("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Who Follows the Lemming?


Family Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory