Japanese space agency has announced that it has discovered a cave on the Moon. The moon cave is big enough for an astronaut base.

This moon cave is 50km long and 100 meters wide. It sits around a series of volcanic dimes known as the Marius Hills.

The Marius Hills, which could one day serve as humanity’s temporary dwelling in space. Image Credit: Nasa

Scientists spotted this hole using an orbiter, which saw only a 50-metre hole. However, the agency said further exploration, using a radar sounder system that can examine underground structures, found a lava tube that stretched for miles.

“We’ve known about these locations that were thought to be lava tubes, but their existence has not been confirmed until now,” said Junichi Haruyama, a senior researcher at Jaxa.

The discovery was made by Japan’s Selenological and Engineering Explorer (Selene) probe.

Is thought that lava flowing on the moon, some 3.5 billion years ago, have formed this potential shelter.

Rocks in the chasm may contain ice or water deposits that could be turned into fuel. This is according to data sent back by the orbiter, nicknamed Kaguya after the moon princess in a Japanese fairytale.

Lunar Colonization

“Dreams of putting people into lava tubes on the moon have been ongoing for decades, and this work is an important step in turning that dream into reality,” wrote the editor of the research based on data gathered by Japan’s SELENE lunar orbiter.

Several countries compete to follow the US in sending manned missions to the moon.

A problem is that the moon has no real atmosphere. Thus, humans would have no shield to protect them from deadly radiation like we are on Earth.

However, the cave would shield and protect astronauts from the toxic radiation. Caves are a good idea also for an asteroid impact which is also more dangerous for the lack of atmosphere. There would also be a more consistent temperature inside the hole.

Temperatures on the moon range from an average of 107°C during the day to -153°C at night.

“Lava tubes might be the best candidate sites for future lunar bases, because of their stable thermal conditions and potential to protect people and instruments from micrometeorites and cosmic ray radiation,” Haruyama said.

Japan wants to put an astronaut on the moon’s surface by 2030. They will join a NASA mission that hopes to build a moon base that astronauts will use to head to Mars.

“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 has said.

Moon deployment could also serve us as a stop off for further exploration of our solar system.

Thumbnail Credit: Matt Anderson