09 April 2010

Lunar Lava Tubes: Ready-Made Moon Habitats?


Thanks to the discovery of water on the moon, interest in exploration and colonisation of Luna has grown recently. NASA is planning robotic explorations of the moon to better assess Luna's water reserves. Google's $30 Million Lunar X Prize contest is still on, and is helping to bring international competition to the forefront.

Now, Indian scientists have discovered lunar lava tubes which may provide an opening for large underground human habitats on the moon.
Director of Indian Space Research Organisation's Space Applications Centre based in Ahmedabad, Dr Ranganath R Navalgund said the terrain mapping camera, an Indian instrument on the lunar mission, has found "new types of rocks" and hollow tunnels.

These tubes were formed after the flow of lava from volcanoes, he contended.

"Tubes which are hollow have been found below the surface of the Moon. Such things have also been identified from the Chandrayaan mission ... from terrain mapping camera ... which was our own instrument".... _Phenomenica

Humans will need to provide shielding from harmful space radiation, if they are to live outside Earth's magnetic and atmospheric shields for long periods of time. Underground habitats on Luna are the most logical answer to that problem. Structurally sound lava tubes may lead us into a deeper understanding of lunar composition, point the way to a safer living environment, and give us better access to some of the riches of the moon.


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