There's a Hole in My Mars

Last night when I went to bed, it was fine. Now it has a hole in it. Alien probes?

Recent images from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (May 5, 007), with its HiRISE telephoto camera, show a number of these so-called mysterious holes. Recent shots (above) see its wall. Is there more?

Well, frankly, virtually none of the "mysteries" of Mars are answered, so you can freely apply the Mysterious word to anything over there. How about the mysterious Olympus Mons? Or the mysterious ice caps? Mysterious blueberries? Mysterious white streaks? If there were no mysteries, why send expensive robots--or eventually, live detectives?

We see in this shot part of the hole's wall. Dark gray features lead our eye downward to--what? Is anything down there?

Actually, yes. It appears that the hole is less than infinitely deep. Whew. That's a relief!

With a little Photoshop, we lightened the boogie out of the image and seem to be seeing the floor of the hole. When you roll your mouse over the shot, you'll see how much--or how little--detail that enables us to bring up from this file.

But it's something. The appearance of numerous circular patterns is prominent. Some of them may be "wishful visualization," but we doubt that all of them are. After all, they didn't coin the term Optical Illusion for nothing. Isn't that right, Mr. FaceOnMars?

Or maybe this is the natural result of dust flecks in the imaging system of the satellite that snapped the shot? If so, then shame on the dude who was supposed to clean the HiRISE's lens.

Click the image and you will see overlay circles in white, yellow and blue that show the most to least prominent circular features we think we are seeing. Some seem to be crater-ish. Others may be bumps, or clumps of debris, or even random coincidences. If you look around on the overburden, you see vague outlines of circular features here and there, too. Like the one at 2:15 touching the hole's edge.

When they get around to shooting an overexposure of this hole, and can actually verify whatever is down there, it will be interesting to compare these perceptions to those images.


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