London, April 27 (ANI): The volcanic features of Mars may become suitable caves for the first human settlements on the red planet, suggests a new study.
"At least two regions, the Tharsis rise and the Elysium rise, contain volcanic features which may be suitable locations for caves," New Scientist quoted lead author Kaj Williams of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, as saying.
According to the analysis, caves in these regions will also have plentiful water, in the form of ice.
Lava tubes can become the most hospitable caves on Mars.
These caves were formed when ancient lava flows solidified at the surface.
Using a computer model Williams and colleagues tried to ascertain how much ice might build up inside these tunnel-like caves.
The team also looked at how long it might last.
The scientists represented their cave as a box 10 metres square by 8 metres high, with the roof having a single small opening to the atmosphere.
They found that during the Martian day, warm, buoyant air would not enter the cool cave, preventing the melting of ice.
At night, as the outside air cooled, it would sink into the cave and bring in water vapour that condensed as frost onto the already icy walls.
The model demonstrated that the ice could last up to 100,000 years.
Astronauts would find the caves quite comfortable, suggested co-author Brian Toon of the University of Colorado, Boulder.
"Perhaps we could call them 'cavenauts'," he added.
The study has been published in Icarus. (ANI)