Science and Exploration

Staring into a Pit On Mars

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
February 24, 2020
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Staring into a Pit On Mars
Pit On Mars

This observation was meant to examine a pit identified in a Context Camera image to see if HiRISE could resolve any details inside.
In this cutout, we see the “normal” view of the HiRISE image on the left, while the right shows what happens when we try to “enhance” the brightness of the pixels in the pit.

Fortunately, HiRISE is sensitive enough to actually see things in this otherwise dark pit. Since HiRISE turned by almost 30 degrees to capture this image, we can see the rough eastern wall of the pit. The floor of the pit appears to be smooth sand and slopes down to the southeast. The hope was to determine if this was an isolated pit, or if it was a skylight into a tunnel, much like skylights in the lava tubes of Hawai’i. We can’t obviously see any tunnels in the visible walls, but they could be in the other walls that aren’t visible.

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SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.