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USTRAX! Here is your Abyss.
Marslauncher
post Mar 17 2007, 09:58 AM
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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6461201.stm

Scientists studying pictures from Nasa's Odyssey spacecraft have spotted what they think may be seven caves on the surface of Mars.


well I guess that makes habitats a much easier task of creating now, plus with whatever we find in the walls of Valles Marineris.
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Rakhir
post Mar 17 2007, 10:22 AM
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It may be a nice target for HiRISE !
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Toma B
post Mar 17 2007, 10:42 AM
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Wow! laugh.gif
Nice place to send Robot-Speleologist...
I wonder if there are bats inside...


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The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful.
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My "Astrophotos" gallery on flickr...
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JTN
post Mar 17 2007, 11:12 AM
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Here's the abstract. The Nature article suggests off-nadir HiRISE observations.
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MarsIsImportant
post Mar 17 2007, 03:10 PM
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I'm not too surprised at all about this find. I've suspected some small but collapsed cave like structures on some of the HiRISE JP2 images. These particular ones from Odyssey are HUGE. It causes me to raise an eyebrow or two! ...but only because it seems to support what I already suspected.

I suspect there is an extensive network of caves throughout many parts of Mars that will not easily be detected from satellite. Most of the larger structures should be very deep underground (kilometers). The Martian crust may look sort of like Swiss cheese. Perhaps MARSIS can help in detecting some of the relatively shallow ones.

This discovery only provides hints as to where both the missing water and atmosphere on Mars may have disappeared to. Deep underground there maybe caves where the atmospheric pressure is great enough for stable liquid water or ice. I'm talking about places that would be measured in kilometers. But we maybe waiting for a very long time for the REAL evidence because it won't be so easy to find.
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tasp
post Mar 17 2007, 03:40 PM
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B)-->
QUOTE(Toma B @ Mar 17 2007, 05:42 AM) *

I wonder if there are bats inside...
[/quote]


Martian obsidian piranha bats.

Quite dangerous, but very tasty!

blink.gif
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nprev
post Mar 17 2007, 03:51 PM
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Even more exciting, what about ancient sulfate stalactites, or pegmatite dikes filled with Martian tourmalines? The mind reels... blink.gif


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tasp
post Mar 17 2007, 03:53 PM
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Would we recognize a kimberlite pipe in any of the photos?
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MarsIsImportant
post Mar 17 2007, 04:37 PM
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It sounds like, if these extensive cave networks don't exists now, they will in the future--from human activity. I think there is little question that some of these rocks exist somewhere on Mars. But where? The answer to that question would go a long way to financially support human colonization of the place.
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tty
post Mar 17 2007, 05:28 PM
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Considering the surrounding terrain and location these would seem to be lava caves, not karst caves. This means that they may be quite extensive (or at least long), but not very deep. And no stalagmites/stalactites unfortunately.

As for kimberlite pipes, yes they would probably be visible in a HiRise image, if they aren't covered by loose material (a very big if!). However it is far from certain that they even occur on Mars. Kimberlite pipe genesis is not well understood, so it is difficult to judge whether conditions on Mars are suitable.
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nprev
post Mar 17 2007, 05:57 PM
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We need to know more about these for many reasons, not the least of which is that they might be a nice cost-effective place to set up a base if they're extensive and capable of being sealed off...good way to get out of the UV & avoid flying a lot of shelter hardware to the surface.


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dvandorn
post Mar 18 2007, 12:54 AM
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My only concern for the suitability of these caves to human habitation is that, being volcanic (empty lava tubes and such), the only occur in regions of "recent" volcanism.

These are the most boring places on the planet, IMHO.

Also, if these cave systems are all located near and within the big volcanoes in Tharsis, then how easy is it going to be to stage useful exploration from the side of a mountain in the middle of the highest-above-datum portion of the planet? How easy is it going to be to simply deliver the gear we'd need to bring from Earth to such a location? Not a lot of atmospheric braking, that high above datum.

Now, if there was a reasonable expectation of finding cave systems branching out from the floors of the deep valleys -- *that* would be an excellent place to look for life and to dig in for human habitation.

-the other Doug


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SFJCody
post Mar 18 2007, 08:02 AM
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http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2005LPI....36.1051B

Meridiani caves?
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pch
post Mar 18 2007, 09:58 AM
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Yes, you can found stalactites in basalt cave!

When I was younger I do a lot a caving.
In 1982 we stay a few month in Hawaii to survey lavatube and climb down many pit like this one.
This look very similar to the pictures in article.


At the bottom of Mauna Ulu crater that was in eruption from 1969 to 1974 we found a cave, in fact the roof of a magma chamber, with many sulfate stalactites and stalagmites up to 1 meter in length.
They formed in less than 6 years from water drainage in the subjacent basalt.
Is this possible on Mars ? sure that Kau desert is a very wet place by comparison.


There is also basalt stalagmites in some lavatube:
But not sure if such a structure can survive billion of years.
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edstrick
post Mar 18 2007, 10:05 AM
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Lave-tube igneous speleothems will be about the same on Mars <and Venus, and Io> as on Earth.

Solution/Deposition speleothems are a whole different catetory. I suspect that low-altitude caves on Mars could well have sulfate mineral speleothems. If the "razorbacks" at Meridiani required liquid after the dunes were lithified and later fractured, than such mineral deposits could form in cave-like voids (or small solution cavities... sulfate geodes, anyone?)
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