Spelunkers across the globe have to be a little excited by the news that Japanese scientists have discovered what is believed to be an open lava tube on the surface of the moon, which could potentially offer access to what is believed to be a vast cave system under the lunar crust.
According to this story from National Geographic, this “skylight” could eventually be used as a safe haven for a permanently manned lunar base, providing shelter from the hostile environment above. The cave found underneath would also allow for a cheaper, larger, and more stable living and working environment for explorers sent to the moon.
Finding a hole, such as this one, on the surface of the moon has not been easy, and scientists have searched for a long time. It is the result of a lava tube that was created roughly 3 billion years ago, during a period of violent volcanic activity, on the small planetoid. The opening was discovered after scientists painstakingly examined a number of high resolution images of the moon’s surface, sent back to Earth by the Japanese spacecraft Kaguya.
Of course, before a permanent base could be built on the moon, the cave system would have to be explored more fully, which could mean that NASA will soon be in the market for some experienced spelunkers who have yearning to be the first to go underground on the Earth’s natural satellite. Sure, they can use space probes and robots to do some of that exploration, but where is the fun in that? Anyone want to visit the moon and go for a little adventure underground?
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