Given the fact that its on the side of a volcano it could also be a hole in a lava tube. But whatever it is, it is really cool and damn wouldn't it be nice to have someone there we could ask to roll over and check it out?
How far away is this from the Mars Rovers? Even having another perspective to see this would be amazing!
The rovers have driven 8km and 35km respectively, so this is out of reach. :)
But thanks for making me spend the rest of my afternoon wikipediaing around on random geological occurrences.
If you wanna see what it looks like for yourself (and are using chrome) you can use this chrome plugin I wrote: http://scommab.github.com/chrome-twitter-bootstrapper/
It's nice, though the change is very subtle on a 1024x768 screen like the iPad.
so, pretty simple changes.
By leave you mean, exit from inside the hole? Leave the perimeter?
(Die Abendteuer der Maus auf dem Mars - The adventures of the mouse on the Mars)
Isn't that grasping at straws a little? I'm not a biologist, but it seems highly unlikely to me that life would develop in a hole 35 meters across.
The biggest problem would be if the changes Mars underwent were too fundamentally anti-life for anything to survive whether it was in a cave or anywhere else.
In my opinion, we're going to find out on Mars that there are forms of microbes that can hang on in sedentary 'ready' state for a billion years, in extreme environments, just waiting to jump back to activity. Most of Mars will be barren, but there will be small pockets of microbes (most likely in a sheltered cave, under ice, or similar) in a form of extreme suspended animation.
On another note, why are we discovering this just now? I was under the amateur impression that the entire surface of Mars was scanned and imaged by NASA at some point. But again, I may have interpreted that incorrectly.
It's easy to forget just how large Mars is, as a comparison, if we scaled Mars up to the size of Earth, the hole would only end up being about 120 meters, or about %30 larger than an American football field. And when it's a feature that we pretty much need human eyes on to determine it's significance, it's easy to imagine how we've missed it. Just imagine trying to find a random football field sized thing in Google Earth, somewhere on the planet.
And to make the comparison even more valid, Mars isn't covered in water, and has a very comparable amount of land surface area as Earth does. in that case, it makes the hole only about 36 meters when scaled up to the surface are of Earth, which is likely what you'd be searching for in Google Earth.
Not to mention that I have no idea to what resolution Mars was scanned and imaged at, considering imagery I see of Earth often, the mentioned scans could easily have pixels larger then the entire size of that feature.
Hence it's easy to imagine that many more interesting features of similar size exist on the martian surface, sitting there in plain view, waiting to be discovered.
It's probably safe to assume we don't have imagery this good for the entire surface of Mars.
Edit: It seems likely that these new images are captured with this equipment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HiRISE
Or did you mean StreetView?
Since 2006, there's been a high-resolution camera platform orbiting Mars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HiRISE), and it's doing this high-res imaging, at up to 30cm/pixel (!), for the first time. Though Wikipedia says that as of 2010, it's only mapped 1% of Mars's surface to that degree.
And could one of those mirrors be mounted in the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft?
So its not impossible that it was a meteorite but it is improbable.
That said, it does look like a sinkhole in this case.
In a traditional research setting the next thing we would be doing is coming up with ideas that would rule out a hypothesis in order to give us higher confidence in the ones that remain. To that end, you've added data which doesn't help us rule out either of our hypotheses so it doesn't advance us toward our goal of understanding.
Finding a circular meteor crater on the moon with a cavern underneath it would be useful.
Another useful thing is to look at the sides of the hole. If the material was removed by pushing outwards, the sides will have one shape, if it was removed by 'draining' into the hole in the center they will have another shape. A good experiment you could run on earth to think about that would be a put some sand over a hole and drain it, take that shape. And then to take the same setup, cover the hole lightly, and blow on it with a directed stream of air until you punch through the thin covering on the hole and then take that shape.
If we can figure out the probable way in which the material was removed, that too can inform our hypothesis. I encourage you to keep coming up with ways to figure this out.
What does it take to make flight happen on Mars? The air is thinner, so would more force be required for airplanes and helicopters to fly? How well would hot-air or helium inflatables work, compared to Earth?
Noth A., Engel W., Siegwart R. Recent Progresses on the Martian Solar Airplane Project Sky-Sailor In Proceedings of the 9th ESA Workshop on Advanced Space Technologies for Robotics (ASTRA 2006), Noordwick, Netherland, 2006.
Noth, A., Bouabdallah, S., Michaud, S., Siegwart, R. and Engel, W. SKY-SAILOR Design of an autonomous solar powered martian airplane. In Proceedings of the 8th ESA Workshop on Advanced Space Technologies for Robotics, (ASTRA 2004), Noordwick, Netherland,2004.
Noth, A., Engel, W. and Siegwart, R. Flying Solo and Solar to Mars - Global Design of a Solar Autonomous Airplane for Sustainable Flight. IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 44-52, Sept. 2006.
See http://www.sky-sailor.ethz.ch/ as well for more.
 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YQBuuhh76A&feature=play...
To transport and ensure it's operational by the time it gets there, might be a completely different matter, though.
* Angle of photography
* Time of day (direction of sunlight)
* Weather conditions
We often ignore problems that are "closer" to us. For example, the oceans on our own planet are still very much a mystery, yet we still look outward.
Needle in a haystack.
anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity
Edit - just neatened up
I also realize the absurdity of complaining about a topic that doesn't match my interest in a news aggregator, but oh well.
I think I would like to capture the opinions of HN's best discussions, categorise them and then be able to filter on - oh look another discussion on web security best practises. Fine - does it add anything beyond what we already have filed under best-of-HN-security - no? Ok ignore.
It's what I suspect kills most forums, not really going downhill, but going round and round the same hill.
Instead of some of our more prolific members saying "I have posted on this before (a lot)" maybe they could say "look at the HNBrain on #dontdropyourdayrate "