- NASA Watch
- May 29, 2023
Is This A Martian Ice Cave?
Mars HiRISE Image: Well-Speckled Polar Dunes
“These barchan (crescent-shaped) sand dunes are found within the North Polar erg of Mars. This type of dune provides a great record of the wind environment when they formed and moved: barchan dunes’ horns point downwind. Although the question of present-day sand motion is still open, it appears possible that these dunes are active (when not covered in frost) as their crestlines are very sharp and their slipfaces (the inner curved region between the horns/downwind surface) appears very smooth and steep.”
Keith’s note: If you look at the hi res image there certainly seems to be an overhang of some sort – seemingly cave-like. I’d ask JPL PAO but they either ignore me or offer non-answers when they do respond. FWIW, this terrain reminds me of Hoth and you know what lives there.
On the very far left of the hi-res image there appears to be another one.
I’ve often dreamed of mankind utilizing Martian caves as protection from the harsh solar radiation and extreme elements. For thousands of years caves provided us with natural shelters on Earth. If they truly do exist, our plans to visit and inhabit Mars should include the use of caves. What a powerful sci-fi novel or film this would make – Cave Men on Mars!
Zoom it in – looks like icicles hanging from the mouth edge. Has to be water ice – carbon dioxide would sublimate at those temps/pressures.
Three caves in the picture too.
If you look at the lower right you can see where there are layers, several of them. The big one in the middle has at least a vertical face and this could be a mixture of CO2 ice and sand. Pretty cool. Good shot!
Fascinating. I’m a caver, but probably way too old to see this up close. What’s the scale, what distance does this photo cover?
Dunes, OK. But how do we know that stuff’s sand? If the arc in the upper right is a shadow, and we are looking at an elevated surface, what’s that smooth, icy surface around it?