The red planet is a truly unique place in the solar system. Hiding in its depths a large amount of water, this cold world has acquired a rusty red color over the millions of years of its evolution, which has become a kind of hallmark of the planet. Another unusual feature of Mars may be the place that was recently discovered by NASA during the analysis of images of the shield volcano Pavonis Mons. The fact is that at first glance it seems completely ordinary, the mountain represented in the photographs of the Mars HiRise orbiter is absolutely hollow. So what is hiding beneath the surface of an unusual Martian hill?
What is inside the Martian mountains?
The famous Mount Pavonis Mons is a product of ancient volcanic activity that took place under the surface of Mars millions of years ago. The picturesque surroundings of the mountain, consisting of long wriggling pipes, faults called grabens, and, of course, the planet’s largest volcanic crater, attract terrestrial astronomers now not only for their aesthetic qualities, but also for the presence of a real geological miracle, sciencealert.com claims. The image taken by NASA in 2011 shows the deepest failure in the Martian surface. Analyzing the resulting photo, scientists came to the conclusion that they were able to observe the so-called lava tube, which was formed at the moment when the flows of ancient lava solidify on the surface of the planet, leaving caves with lava tubes behind them. Over time, the upper sections of the former volcano are destroyed, creating a kind of hatches leading to the cavity of the geological formation.
A detailed analysis of the detected skylight showed that the hole is about 35 meters across. The depth of the pit is 28 meters and leads to the base of the lava tube, covered with a pile of rubble. A digital map of the area created by NASA experts showed that the height of such a pile should be at least 62 meters, and the total depth of the lava tube should be about 90 meters. In any case, this is much more than any lava tube ever discovered on Earth.
Caves with lava tubes have long been of interest to scientists for their incredibly useful feature, which can be very useful during the initial stages of colonization of the Red Planet. The hard cosmic radiation, which constantly bombards the surface of Mars, decreases markedly as it dives into a natural volcanic cave. Such an unexpected quality can be used in the construction of the first Martian colony or even in the search for signs of local life. Being protected from the harsh surface of Mars, the simplest life may well flourish in its shelter, provided that there is at least a small amount of water. We will be able to confirm or refute such a bold hypothesis in the coming decades, when the first man-controlled interplanetary research missions will land on the rusty surface of our solar system neighbor.
Perhaps new expeditions will also help us find out the reasons for the appearance of the mysterious form of unusual geological formation. Due to the fact that the light hatch of the Pavonis Mons lava tube probably comes from the strange crater surrounding it, the volcanic origin of the conical hole extending several tens of meters in depth may soon be called into question.