Huge cave found on moon could house astronauts
TOKYO - AFP
Scientists at Japan’s space agency have discovered a huge moon cave that could one day house a base that would shelter astronauts from dangerous radiation and wild temperature swings, officials said on Oct. 19.
Data taken from Japan’s SELENE lunar orbiter has confirmed the existence of the 50 kilometer long and 100 meter wide cavern that is believed to be lava tube created by volcanic activity about 3.5 billion years ago.
The major finding was published this week in US science magazine Geophysical Research Letters.“We’ve known about these locations that were thought to be lava tubes...but their existence has not been confirmed until now,” Junichi Haruyama, a researcher at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, said.
The underground tunnel, located under an area called the Marius Hills, would help protect astronauts from huge swings in temperature and damaging radiation that they would be exposed to on the moon’s surface, he added.
“We haven’t actually seen the inside of the cave itself so there are high hopes that exploring it will offer more details,” Haruyama said.
The announcement comes after Japan in June revealed ambitious plans to put an astronaut on the Moon around 2030.That was the first time the agency had said it aimed to send an astronaut beyond the International Space Station.
The idea is to first join a NASA-led mission in 2025 to build a space station in the moon’s orbit, as part of a longer-term effort by NASA to reach Mars.The US also announced the country is committed to send astronauts to the moon.