While studying images taken by a NASA spacecraft, seventh-grade students discovered a cave on Mars. How cool is that?
Dennis Mitchell’s science class at Evergreen Middle School in Cottonwood, California was participating in the Mars Student Imaging Program, which lets students “frame a research question and then commission a Mars-orbiting camera to take an image to answer their question,” reports Space.com.
“The students developed a research project focused on finding the most common locations of lava tubes on Mars,” Mitchell said. “Do they occur most often near the summit of a volcano, on its flanks, or the plains surrounding it?”
The class commissioned a main photo and a backup image of Mars’ Pavonis Mons volcano, targeted on a region that hadn’t been imaged up close.
“This pit is certainly new to us,” (geologist Glen) Cushing told the students. “And it is only the second one known to be associated with Pavonis Mons.”
“The Mars Student Imaging Program is certainly one of the greatest educational programs ever developed,” Mitchell said. “It gives the students a good understanding of the way research is conducted and how that research can be important for the scientific community. This has been a wonderful experience.”