A new discovery made by scientists from NASA and JAXA, Japan's space agency, brings the human race one step closer to living on the moon.
Humans living on lunar colonies will not happen tomorrow, but the discovery certainly opens up that option in the future.
Underground Caves On The Moon
There has long been a theory that the dark craters found on the surface of the moon are entrances to giant caves that were left behind very long ago by flowing lava.
That theory has now been confirmed. In new research published in Geophysical Research Letters, a team of scientists revealed that several pits in the moon's Marius Hill region are actually large open lava tubes. The ancient caves, according to the researchers, are a "pristine environment to conduct scientific examination of the moon's composition and potentially serve as secure shelters for humans and instruments."
The underground caves were formed when lava tubes, which form the outer part of flowing lava, cooled into hard layers. After the flow is stopped and the lava is drained, cylindrical rock formations were left behind. These caves could be massive, with possible widths of hundreds of meters and lengths stretching miles.
JAXA scientists acquired radar data from the SELENE spacecraft that studied the origins and geological history of the moon. The data was then combined with information from NASA's GRAIL mission, which determined places on the lunar surface with missing or reduced mass. The result was the confirmation of underground caves on the moon, and for one particular case, revealed a cave that has a length of several kilometers and a height and width of at least 1 kilometer (0.62 miles).
The Perfect Spot For Humans To Live On the Moon
The moon is certainly not as habitable as the Earth. While it is believed that there was an atmosphere on the moon back when its ancient volcanoes were active, humans are 70 million years late from taking advantage of that.
Living on the moon is a huge step-up from recent plans to build a lunar cellphone tower, but scientists believe that humans can survive on it. In the research that discussed the discovery of the underground caves, it was suggested that living underneath the moon's shell can protect humans from radiation and the crashing meteorites. The lava tubes could provide more stable temperatures, compared to the wide range of temperatures that have been recorded on the surface.
A new study also proposes that the moon is hiding a water reservoir in its interior. If there is indeed water on the moon, it would make living on it an even bigger possibility.