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National Geographic News: “Mars Has Cave Networks, New Photos Suggest”
Thermal imaging experts analyzing photos of Mars have announced the possible presence of caves beneath Mars’ famous red surface. The research team identified seven circular pits on the surface that “appear to be openings to underground caverns.” These could-be caves, located near Mars’ second-highest mountain, “may be similar in structure to Hawaii’s lava tubes.”
These could-be caves, located near Mars’ second-highest mountain, “may be similar in structure to Hawaii’s lava tubes.”
But what’s the real draw for evolutionary scientists?
The discovery of potential caves is exciting, the scientists said, because such underground formations may be the most promising places to look for signs of life.
[Other caves] lie on the mountain’s lower flanks, where conditions may be more hospitable for life.
Some researchers have suggested that Martian caverns in low-lying areas could hold reservoirs of water, which would make the existence of microbial life much more likely.
And, in case scientists’ train of thought on the matter isn’t clear:
Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University headed a recent study of potential Martian hydrothermal sites including Arsia Mons.
“If there is still volcanic activity at or near the [cave] sites, the chances for life are much higher,” he said.
“Hydrothermal water and associated nutrient-containing compounds could be released periodically and sustain life.”
It’s disappointing to read that space exploration seems to be increasingly focused on one thing: finding some outer-space connection to the supposed evolution of life on earth. Indeed, it seems that nearly all recent discoveries about the Red Planet are in some way centered on the possibility of Martian life. For the reality about such claims, see our Astronomy and Astrophysics Q&A, Alien Life / UFO Q&A, and Origin of Life Q&A.
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