While it’s been said that the moon is made of cheese, we know, of course, that particular dairy product was never discovered on our close lunar neighbor. But what about a place on Mars that looks like it’s made of Swiss cheese?
This area of the Red Planet’s southern hemisphere includes a large pit of some sort ― see the images above and below ― that has scientists scratching their heads, wondering if this was the result of something smashing into Mars, or if the ground somehow collapsed and left a perfectly circular result.
Photographed recently by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, this image depicts many shallow pits scattered around an area of thawing carbon dioxide ice, designated “Swiss cheese terrain,” according to Australian-based ScienceAlert.com.
“There is also a deeper, circular formation that penetrates through the ice and dust,” NASA says on its Mars orbiter update page. “This might be an impact crater or it could be a collapse pit.”
At this point, the space agency’s scientists don’t really know what created this Martian feature.
Holes on Mars are not uncommon.
“More than half a million meteorite impacts have left craters; collapsing lava tubes have created deep pits; ancient floods have gouged out giant chasms; and volcanic activity has melted ice to leave funnels,” reports ScienceAlert.
At an estimated approximately 500 feet across, this circular Martian feature is “a bit deeper than your average hole, leaving astronomers to try and figure out what made it,” the science news site adds.
Below is an extreme closeup of the feature in question ― whatever it is.
Clarification: Technically, frozen carbon dioxide does not “melt,” as previously stated in this article. Rather, it changes directly from a solid to a gas as it warms.