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A roadmap for planetary caves science and exploration

June 1, 2021

While researchers have pondered the possibility of extraterrestrial caves for more than 50 years, we have now entered the incipient phase of planetary caves exploration. Our knowledge of planetary caves varies from body to body. Earth represents the most advanced level of exploration, but many unanswered questions remain. Beyond Earth, identification of possible caves is most advanced for the Moon and Mars , with hundreds of documented candidate cave entrances and several proposed cave mission concepts.  To date, the community has catalogued 2,660 SAPs on eight planetary bodies (excluding Earth) across our Solar System. Planetary caves science has the potential to significantly expand over the next decade. A potential roadmap for planetary cave research and exploration is discussed. 

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title A roadmap for planetary caves science and exploration
DOI 10.1038/s41550-021-01385-1
Authors Timothy N. Titus, J. Judson Wynne, Michael J. Malaska, Ali-akbar Agha-Mohammadi, Peter Buhler, E. Calvin Alexander, James W. Ashley, Armando Azua-Bustos, Penelope J. Boston, Debra L. Buczkowski, Leroy Chiao, Glen E. Cushing, John DeDecker, Pablo de León, Cansu Demirel-Floyd, Jo de Waele, Alberto G. Fairén, Amos Frumkin, Gary L. Harris, Heather Jones, Laura H. Kerber, Erin J. Leonard, Richard J. Léveillé, Kavya Manyapu, Matteo Massironi, Ana Z. Miller, John E. Mylroie, Bogdan P. Onac, Scott E. Parazynski, Cynthia B. Phillips, Charity M. Phillips-Lander, Thomas H. Prettyman, Haley M. Sapers, Francesco Sauro, Norbert Schorghofer, Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Jennifer Scully, Kyle Uckert, Robert V. Wagner, William L. Whittaker, Kaj E. Williams, Uland Y. Wong
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Nature Astronomy
Index ID 70237296
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Astrogeology Science Center