(ORDO NEWS) — A team of researchers from the Geological Society of America (eng. Geological Society of America, GSA) identified nine caves on Mars, which, in their opinion, are the most habitable if someday people go to conquer the neighboring planet.
These caves, according to the study, are ways to provide reliable protection from the harsh and even deadly conditions that prevail on the surface.
The Red Planet is a hostile place: winter night temperatures can drop to -125 degrees Celsius (at the poles, nighttime temperatures can drop to around -153 degrees), the atmosphere is incredibly thin, devoid of an ozone layer, which means solar radiation readings are extremely high level.
And this is not to mention the real risk of being hit by a large meteorite. It follows that the safest place on Mars is deep caves.
The new study examined the Mars Global Cave Candidate Catalog, a collection of more than 1,000 Martian caves discovered by NASA’s Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
This list was reduced to the best options that were within 100 kilometers of a potential landing site and did not rise more than 1000 meters above sea level. The altitude location of the caves was taken into account for the reason that the descent vehicles need room to maneuver during the descent.
“Mars has enough of an atmosphere that it cannot be discounted, but not enough to give you significant aerobraking,” said Nicole Bardabelias, a geologist at the University of Arizona, who presented the results of the study.
“You need enough space between the moment you enter the upper atmosphere and the place where you should land.”
The scientists received 139 candidate caves that met their criteria, which they then carefully analyzed to make sure that they extend under the Martian surface (they are caves, not just depressions).
The largest of the nine leading candidates have an inlet the size of a football field, which is a tempting prospect for future space travelers, as it would simplify any construction and transportation procedure for bulky cargo.
Unfortunately, NASA’s active Mars rovers Curiosity and Perseverance are very far from these cave candidates, meaning we won’t be able to observe them up close for a very long time.
However, this does not stop us from imagining what the future shelters of the colonists on the Red Planet may one day look like.
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