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Detection and classification of skylights on the flank of Elysium Mons, Mars
  • Ravi Sharma,
  • Neeraj Srivastava
Ravi Sharma
J.J.T. University, Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan 333001, India

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Neeraj Srivastava
Planetary Science Division, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad 380009, India
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The Martian caves have revived interest in the field of speleology because they are the potential destinations for future human residences and astrobiological research. The skylights are formed by the collapse of the surface materials into the subsurface void spaces. Hence, they are the doors to access the subsurface caves. The signature of life is probable in a sub-surface cave on Mars as it can protect life from the harsh and dangerous radiation environment of the surface. In a cave, there may be an abundance of minerals, fluids, and other key resources. Therefore, locating the skylights is essential and crucial for formulating plans for robotics/human explorations of the Red Planet, Mars. We have used remote sensing data from MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; NASA), MGS (Mars Global Surveyor; NASA), and Mars Odyssey (NASA) for identifying, mapping, and classifying of skylights based on their morphology, morphometry, and thermal behavior. A total of thirty-two skylight candidates have been examined which includes twenty-six newly discovered ones. Out of these, seventeen have been classified as Atypical Pit Craters (APCs) and fifteen as Bowl-shaped Pit Craters (BPCs). Among these, there are twelve newly found APCs. The APCs are considered as potential skylights associated with caves; however, considering the formation and the geological context, fifteen BPCs, which have displayed the requisite morphological and thermal behavior, have also been considered as potential skylights.