Could the first Astronauts to Mars live underground, rather than above ground? It might be the best, safest and most sustainable way of colonizing our closest planetary neighbor. Last year astronauts began training in a program dubbed CAVES, which is run by the European Astronaut centre in Sardinia, Italy. CAVES, an acronym for Cooperating Adventure for Valuing and Exercising Human behavior and Performance Skills is a multi-national program designed to train team building and problem building skills in some of the most alien and remote places on or in Earth; caves. Participants spend as much as two weeks underground. See video here:

While clues to water on the surface of Mars have been observed, primarily in the form of frost and permafrost, the prevalence for liquid water in amounts necessary to sustain  a long term or permanent base or colony have not been found on the surface. However, water may well exist in sufficient amounts underwater, and that caves, like those on earth which harbor subterranean pools and rivers, may indeed exist beneath the surface of the red planet. caves are already known to exist on mars. in 2012, reported that:

“Subterranean formations are quite common on Mars, Boston said. Orbiting spacecraft have spotted many snaking lava tubes, for example, which were created by long-ago Red Planet volcanism…Lava-tube caves on Earth commonly trap volatile materials such as water, she added.”  

Lava tubes and Martian caves might provide shelter from  dangerous UV radiation in the thin Martian atmosphere, and from damaging winds and epic sand and dust storms. Lava tubes might provide sheltered access between facilities. Caves might offer access to heat and water sources, who knows, but someone should look into it. Just name  a cave after me…




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