(ORDO NEWS) — When magma comes out of the Earth to the surface, it flows like lava. These lava flows leave behind unique reliefs and rocks. But much of what is interesting about these flows can be hidden underground, such as lava tubes.
Lava tubes form when the surface of flowing lava cools and solidifies, but the lava below continues to flow. It is like a frozen river that forms an ice layer on top, and the water underneath continues to flow. The flowing lava can remain hot and flow out to form a cave.
Lava tubes form on the Moon, Mars, and possibly anywhere else where volcanic activity has occurred – a unique environment. They can serve as a refuge for life or evidence of past microbial life, and they can contain readily observable records of geological activity.
Lava tubes can be very large, sometimes several kilometers long. The longest known to us on Earth is Kazumura Cave in Hawaii. The cave is 65.5 kilometers long.
There is ample evidence that lava tubes formed on the Moon and Mars.
Mars was humid and warm at one time, and perhaps life was there. Over time, it lost its atmosphere and water and became cold. But if there was life, it may have managed to “migrate” to the only remaining niches where it could survive. On Mars, this place is lava tubes.
NASA’s next rover, Perseverance, will travel to Jezero Crater on a mission to find signs of ancient life. This location was chosen after careful selection.
It’s only a matter of time before the mission sets out to explore the lava tubes.
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