NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day today is particularly interesting — a hole in the surface of Mars. We’ve seen craters, plains, the tracings of flowing water, etc. But this hole appears to be an opening into a subsurface cavern of some kind, much like an earthly sinkhole over an old mineshaft.
The hole was discovered in images of the slopes of Mars’ Pavonis Mons volcano sent from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Such holes have been seen before and have led to speculation by scientists that protected subterranean caverns might be the best place to find any existing Martian lifeforms.
Curiosity, our next Mars exploration vehicle, is due to land on the planet’s surface August 6. Or at least, try to land. This video from NASA explains the incredible complexity of the landing:
Curiosity is five times as large as either of the existing Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and carries more than ten times the mass of scientific instruments present on the older vehicles. This video and its extensive accompanying notes on YouTube explain how Curiosity differs from previous Mars explorers:
(Sorry. Couldn’t get this one embedded.)
- Curiosity Reboots In Preparation For Mars Landing (informationweek.com)
- A ‘Curiosity’ Quiz: How Well Do You Know NASA’s Next Mars Rover? (space.com)
- After Mars Rover Lands, NASA May Have Anxious Wait (news.discovery.com)
- Nasa may not hear rover’s landing (bbc.co.uk)
- NASA faces new Curiosity obstacles as Mars landing approaches (slashgear.com)
- Picture of the Day: A Hole in Mars That May Nourish Life (theatlantic.com)
- Nasa weeks away from return to Mars (itv.com)