An image posted to the NASA science blog and Astronomy Photo of the Day shows a mountain that seems hollowed out. It actually isn’t a hollowed mountain on Mars, but a lava tube ‘skylight’. The lava tube ‘skylight’ is a product of ancient volcanic activity below the surface of Mars. The feature is on the slopes of a volcano called Pavonis Mons, home to grabens, or long snaking lava tubes, as ScienceAlert details:
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Lava tube caves like this are exciting because they offer some protection from the harsh radiation that bombards Mars. This means that they could be good sites to establish underground bases (if they are accessible; this particular one doesn’t look like it’s easy to get in and out of).
But there’s another implication, too. If we’re going to look for signs of life on Mars, caves might be the best option.
“Holes such as this are of particular interest because their interior caves are relatively protected from the harsh surface of Mars, making them relatively good candidates to contain Martian life,” the APOD post explained.
“These pits are therefore prime targets for possible future spacecraft, robots, and even human interplanetary explorers.”
image via ScienceAlert