While both Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, among others, have talked about building bases on the Moon, the latest cave discovery brings that dream closer to reality
The Selenological and Engineering Explorer of Japan has discovered a 31 miles “lava tube” underground, alongside a lava flow river “rille” on the Marius Hills of the Moon. To confirm the existence of the cave, JAXA used radio waves.
In a press release regarding the discovery, JAXA emphasized the reasons why the lava tubes, possibly created by volcanic activity on the Moon, are a good fit for lunar bases. “Lava tubes may be the best place to build large-scale lunar bases because their interiors protect from dangerous space radiation, micrometeorite bombardment, and wide temperature oscillations,” the space agency wrote.
The underground area measures almost 310 miles long and 328 feet wide. Moreover, it may contain rocks filled with water or ice. The cave received the name of Kaguya, which is a moon princess in a Japanese fairytale.
“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
A cave located on the Moon could shield humans from having to face extreme temperatures due to its lack of atmosphere.
The search for lunar caves continues, as researchers will look also at other regions of the Moon for additional underground lava tubes for “future exploration of lava tubes or lunar base construction.”