Feeds

Caves spotted on Mars

But where are the cave-Martians?

Security for virtualized datacentres

The Mars Odyssey orbiter has beamed back pictures of what appear to be cave entrances on the slopes of a Martian volcano.

Seven small dark craters pepper the side of the long-extinct volcano. They range from about 100 to 200 metres in size, and are very nearly circular. The NASA team turned the thermal imaging cameras on the black circles as soon as it could. The variation in temperature, or relative lack thereof, is what prompted speculation that the circles could be entrances to much bigger underground space.

As seen by NASA's Mars Orbiter, in visible light and infrared (left to right)

As seen by NASA's Mars Orbiter, in visible light and infrared (left to right).

"They are cooler than the surrounding surface in the day and warmer at night," said Glen Cushing of the US Geological Survey's Astrogeology Team and of Northern Arizona University. "Their thermal behaviour is not as steady as large caves on Earth that often maintain a fairly constant temperature, but it is consistent with these being deep holes in the ground."

The discovery was published online by the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Co-author Tim Titus of the US Geological Survey speculates that the caves could even harbour life.

"Whether these are just deep vertical shafts or openings into spacious caverns, they are entries to the subsurface of Mars. Somewhere on Mars, caves might provide a protected niche for past or current life or shelter for humans in the future."

But Cushing says the altitude of the "cave openings" makes it unlikely that they'd be suitable for humans to use. He also pours cold water on the idea that native life could have migrated to such extreme heights. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
LOHAN invites ENTIRE REG READERSHIP to New Mexico shindig
Well, those of you who back our Kickstarter tin-rattling...
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.