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Moon Cave Complex Could Be First Home for Lunar Colonists

Moon Cave Complex Could Be First Home for Lunar Colonists

Image of a possible skylight pit in the Marius Hills, taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University)

Friday, 20 October 2017 04:13 AM

A moon cave discovered by Japanese scientists could one day house a base that would shelter astronauts from dangerous radiation and wild temperature swings.

Data taken from Japan's SELENE lunar orbiter has confirmed the existence of the 31-mile- long and 100-meter-wide cavern that is believed to be lava tube created by volcanic activity about 3.5 billion years ago, Agence France-Presse reported.

The major finding was published this week in U.S. 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, told AFP on Thursday.

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.

"We will return American astronauts to the moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundations we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond," US Vice President Mike Pence said this month.

China and India are also developing their space programmes.

In November, China's Shenzhou-11 spacecraft returned to Earth, bringing home two astronauts from the rising power's longest-ever orbital mission.

Beijing has also unveiled illustrations of a Mars probe and rover it aims to send to the Red Planet at the end of the decade.

NASA and other global space agencies are working hard on sending astronauts to Mars by the 2030s.

© AFP 2018

   
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A moon cave discovered by Japanese scientists could one day house a base that would shelter astronauts from dangerous radiation and wild temperature swings.
moon, cave, home, lunar colonists
360
2017-13-20
Friday, 20 October 2017 04:13 AM
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