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Candidate cave entrances on Mars

Journal of Cave and Karst Studies

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DOI: 10.4311/2010EX0167R

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Abstract

This paper presents newly discovered candidate cave entrances into Martian near-surface lava tubes, volcano-tectonic fracture systems, and pit craters and describes their characteristics and exploration possibilities. These candidates are all collapse features that occur either intermittently along laterally continuous trench-like depressions or in the floors of sheer-walled atypical pit craters. As viewed from orbit, locations of most candidates are visibly consistent with known terrestrial features such as tube-fed lava flows, volcano-tectonic fractures, and pit craters, each of which forms by mechanisms that can produce caves. Although we cannot determine subsurface extents of the Martian features discussed here, some may continue unimpeded for many kilometers if terrestrial examples are indeed analogous. The features presented here were identified in images acquired by the Mars Odyssey's Thermal Emission Imaging System visible-wavelength camera, and by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's Context Camera. Select candidates have since been targeted by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment. Martian caves are promising potential sites for future human habitation and astrobiology investigations; understanding their characteristics is critical for long-term mission planning and for developing the necessary exploration technologies.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Candidate cave entrances on Mars
Series title:
Journal of Cave and Karst Studies
DOI:
10.4311/2010EX0167R
Volume
74
Issue:
1
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
National Speleological Society
Publisher location:
Huntsville, AL
Contributing office(s):
Astrogeology Science Center
Description:
15 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
33
Last page:
47
Other Geospatial:
Mars