The latest images from the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter or MRO are yet another source of wonder as scientists spotted a giant hole in the planet’s “Swiss cheese terrain”. Still, researchers are yet unsure what may have caused this formation, and the possibilities are quite varied.
The Giant Hole Seems Deeper Than Expected
NASA’s MRO has been orbiting Mars ever since March 2006. During this time, it captured and beamed back detailed images of the planet’s surface and its dynamic environment. For example, it managed to take a picture of dust devils and also of the crash site of ESA’s Schiaparelli lander.
Now, the Orbiter offered yet another cause of debates through its latest images. The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment or HiRISE camera took a picture of a giant hole in the “Swiss cheese terrain” area.
HiRISE offers a look at Martian objects which are larger than 3 feet in size and around 125 to 250 miles above the planet’s surface. According to the image details, in the photograph, this hole is 19.7 inches per pixel. Scaled to its real-life dimensions, that would make it some hundreds of across.
Although pits and craters pocket the entire area, these new photos seem to indicate that the newly spotted hole is larger and deeper than most. Researchers have already pointed out the many possible sources of marks on Mars’s terrain. These include meteorite strikes and collapsing lava tubes, as the planet was shown to have hosted an increased volcanic activity.
Still, at least for the moments, scientists are unsure whether this new pit is an impact crater or if it may be a collapse pit. As it is, researchers will probably be casting a closer look at the formation.
According to the NASA, the MRO image shows that it is late summer in Mars’s Southern Hemisphere. “So the Sun is low in the sky and subtle topography is accentuated in orbital images.”
This light also indicates the presence of ice at the bottom of this giant hole.
Image Source: JPL/NASA