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Candidate Cavern Entrance Northeast of Arsia Mons
Candidate Cavern Entrance Northeast of Arsia Mons
 Media credit: Image courtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Observation ID

Release date
23 May 2007

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Our JPEG2000 product is being reprocessed and will be available shortly.

This image shows a very dark spot on an otherwise bright dusty lava plain to the northeast of Arsia Mons, one of the four giant Tharsis volcanoes.

This is not an impact crater as it lacks a raised rim or ejecta. What's amazing is that we cannot see any detail in the shadow! Here we see this dark spot and a version that is "enhanced" to view the darkest area, yet we still cannot see details except noise.

The HiRISE camera is very sensitive and we can see details in almost any shadow on Mars, but not here. We also cannot see the deep walls of the pit. The best interpretation is that this is a collapse pit into a cavern or at least a pit with overhanging walls. We cannot see the walls because they are either perfectly vertical and extremely dark or, more likely, overhanging.

The pit must be very deep to prevent detection of the floor from skylight, which is quite bright on Mars.

Observation Geometry

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