Science/Tech

Life On Mars: Researchers Find Underground Tubes That Could House Humans

Researchers have found an area on Mars that may give humans a safe shelter in future explorations. The Red Planet has underground lava tubes that appeared blocking strong radiation, which could harm or even kill people. 

Mars is known to have high levels of cosmic radiation reaching its surface. NASA and other space agencies have been developing technologies that may help allow astronauts to survive the harsh environment on the planet. 

The naturally occurring lava tubes may provide better protection to crews with less resources needed. They appear when lava flow beneath the surface stops and drains out. 

Earth has the same tubes that could reach 30 meters (100 feet across). However, Mars has larger ones, reaching up to 250 meters (820 feet) in width, due to lower levels of gravity, IFLScience reported Wednesday.

Researchers discovered the underground nooks on the Red Planet using data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The team first noticed the lava tubes when pit crater chains or a series of round depressions appeared as the surface collapsed in the Hellas impact basin. 

The tubes, described in the preprint server arXiv, are located near the planet’s ancient volcanic mountain Hadriacus Mons. Researchers said aside from housing humans, the underground caves potentially contain traces of microbial life on Mars. 

Tests showed that the radiation levels in the tubes were less than the rest of the planet’s surface. On Earth, lava tubes could block up to 82 percent of incoming radiation. 

Another factor that makes the tubes on Mars a great spot to house astronauts is that their entrances could be sealed off. That would help enable explorers to warm up and pressurize the underground caves with breathable air.

“These natural caverns would provide the crew protection from excessive radiation exposure, shelter them from the bombardment of micrometeorites… and provide them a degree of protection from extreme temperature fluctuations,” researchers said in the report.

It is not the first time that scientists looked into lava tubes as possible shelter during space missions. The Moon also has similar caves beneath its surface, which appeared large enough to have the city center of Riga inside. 

Mars Scientists have been exploring Mars to find potential signs of life and to see if it could support new organisms in the future. Pixabay

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