This one year pilot study (2005-2006) aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of detecting caves using thermal imagery.  We used a combination of ground-based measurements and remote sensing of terrestrial caves to demonstrate this concept was viable. We collected hourly temperature and barometric pressure data from seven caves on El Malpais National Monument.  Additionally, we collected thermal images over a 24-hour period from caves at El Malpais National Monument, Wupatki National Monument and Cathedral Caverns Speleological Preserve.  Our preliminary findings suggested caves were most detectable during the predawn hours and least detectable at midday.  Additionally, this work resulted in the identification of the most compelling evidence for cave-like features on Mars.  This project was funded through NASA’s Exobiology Program.

 

Publications & Reports

Wynne, J. J., T. N. Titus, and G. Chong Diaz. 2008. On Developing Thermal Cave Detection Techniques for Earth, the Moon and Mars. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 272: 240–250.

Cushing, G. E., T. N. Titus, J. J. Wynne, and P. R. Christensen. 2007. THEMIS Observes Possible Cave Skylights on Mars. Geophysical Research Letters 34, L17201. 

Wynne, J. J., T. N. Titus, C. A. Drost, R. S. Toomey III and K. Peterson. 2008. Annual Thermal Amplitudes and Thermal Detection of Southwestern U.S. Caves: Additional Insights for Remote Sensing of Caves on Earth and Mars, Abstract #2459, LPSC XXXIX, Houston, TX.

Wynne, J. J., M. G. Chapman, C. A. Drost, J. S. Kargel, J. Thompson, T. N. Titus, and R. S. Toomey III. 2007. Cave Detection on Mars, 2006 NSS Convention Abstracts, Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 68: 169.

Cushing, G. E., T. N. Titus, J. J. Wynne, and P. R. Christensen. 2007. THEMIS Observes Possible Cave Skylights on Mars.  Abstract #1371, LPSC XXXVIII, Houston, TX. 

 

Professional Presentations

9th Biennial Conference of Research on the Colorado Plateau, Flagstaff, AZ (2007). Wynne, J.J., G.E. Cushing, T.N. Titus, C.A. Drost, R.S. Toomey III, M. Jhabvala, P.J. Boston, K. Peterson, and R. Harter.  Thermal Behavior of Southwestern U.S. Caves and Pit Craters on Arsia Mons, Mars.

10th Annual Mars Society Conference, Los Angeles, CA (2007).  Wynne, J.J., G.E. Cushing, T.N. Titus, M.G. Chapman, C.A. Drost, R.S. Toomey III, M.D. Jhabvala, P.J. Boston, G. Chong Diaz, K. Peterson, and R. Harter. Thermal Behavior of Earth Caves and Pit Craters on Arsia Mons, Mars.

National Speleological Society Convention, Marengo, IN (2007). Wynne, J.J. N.A. Cabrol,  P.J. Boston, G.E. Cushing, T.N. Titus, C.A. Drost, R.S. Toomey III and R. Harter. Mars Analogue Sites and Their Importance in the Search for Caves on Mars (Invited).

National Speleological Society Convention, Marengo, IN (2007). Wynne, J.J., G.E. Cushing, T.N. Titus, M.G. Chapman, C.A. Drost, R.S. Toomey III, M.D. Jhabvala, P.J. Boston, G. Chong Diaz, K. Peterson, J.E. Moresch, J. Thompson and R. Harter. Thermal Behavior of Earth Caves and Possible Cave-like Structures on Mars (Invited)

National Speleological Society - Southwest Regional Technical Meeting, Socorro, NM (2006). Boston, P. J., S. Dubowsky, J. S. Plante, J. J. Wynne, J. Thompson, and F. Prinz. The search for caves on other planets: new technologies from hot holes in the ground to hopping microbots.

National Speleological Society Annual Convention, Bellingham WA (2006). Wynne, J. J., M. G. Chapman, C. A. Drost, J.S. Kargel, J. Thompson, T. N. Titus, and R. S. Toomey, III. Cave Detection on Mars- Astrobiology and the Search for Life.

 

Popular Press

Space.com, Possible New Mars Cave Targets in Search for Life (02 April 2007). Web media.

Arizona Daily Sun Newspaper, Flagstaff, p. A2 "Caves, not canals, for life on Mars?" (30 March 2007). Regional Newspaper.

National Geographic Online, Mars has Cave Networks, New Photos Suggest (21 March 2007). Web Media.

MSNBC Cosmic Log, Caves on Mars (19 March 2007). Web Media.

BBC, 'Cave Entrances' Spotted on Mars (17 March 2007). Web Media.                   

KJZZ Phoenix 91.5 FM NPR News, Zooming in on Mars (14 November 2007). Regional Radio.

The Planetary Society Weblog, Windows Onto the Abyss: Cave Skylights on Mars (23 May 2007). Web Media.

Arizona Public Radio News (NPR Affiliate), Flagstaff, AZ, Local Caves May Hold Martian Life Secrets (18 May 2007). Regional Radio.