segunda-feira, 3 de setembro de 2007

Novas imagens dos 'buracos' em Marte mostram paredes

Os buracos descobertos há algum tempo na superfície de Marte (de que falei aqui) estão a ser de novo fotografados, pela camera HiRISE, do Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Uma dessas fotos revela uma parede, o que parece negar que o buraco seja uma entrada para uma enorme gruta subterrânea, sendo apenas... um buraco.

No entanto, em minha opinião, e se clicarem na imagem à direita, nada está ainda provado, na realidade não se sabe o que há do lado esquerdo da imagem.

Continuarei a seguir este 'mistério'.

Fonte: New Scientist

Strange Martian feature not a 'bottomless' cave after all

20:49 30 August 2007 news service
David Shiga

An extremely dark feature on Mars is probably just a pit – not the entrance to a deep cavern that future astronauts could call home, a new image reveals.

The 150- by 157-metre feature was first noticed in an image taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on 5 May 2007 using a camera called the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE).

Viewed from directly overhead, the dark spot showed no evidence of walls or a floor, leading some HiRISE scientists to suspect it was the opening to a cavern (scroll down for image).

That would have been exciting, since caves might be good places to search for life, as they offer protection from intense ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Caves could also provide shelter for any future human visitors to Mars.

The new image, however, suggests the feature is just a vertical shaft cutting into the surface. Taken on 8 August from a different angle, the image reveals a wall on the feature's eastern side.

Bouncing robots

It is not clear how deep the pit is, because its floor has still not been seen. But the HiRISE team says it must be at least 78 metres deep.

Similar "pit craters" form on the flanks of volcanoes in Hawaii when lava deep underground drains away, causing the overlying rock to collapse downward, forming a well.

Although this particular feature did not turn out to be a cave entrance, Mars may have caves in the form of intact "lava tubes" – long tube-shaped cavities sometimes left behind when underground lava drains away. Some collapsed lava tubes are known on Mars and intact ones may well be present too.

Scientists have designed small bouncing robots that could one day investigate Martian caves.

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