Expanding human presence to our nearest celestial body, the Moon, has long been a dream of astronomers and their agencies here on Earth. However, an environment unfit for human life, not to mention cost, distance, and sustainability, have always proved to be the biggest roadblocks in their ambitious plans.
A recent discovery by JAXA, Japan’s space agency, provides a promising location for a potential Moon base that could help eliminate several problems that come attached to building on the surface. Japan’s Selenological and Engineering Explorer (Selene) probe used radio waves to help uncover an enormous cave in the Marius Hills, roughly 50 km (31 miles) long and 100 meters wide.
The data results reveal that the massive size of the cave would allow for structures to be built soundly anywhere from several dozen to 200 meters below the surface, and scientists also predict that the rocks within the cave contain water and ice particles that can be used as fuel.
Scientists believe that the cave once served as a lava tube roughly 3.5 billion years ago.
JAXA senior researcher Junichi Haruyama claimed to The Guardian that the agency hypothesized about the existence of these caves before, but this is the first evidence that proves their existence. He also stated that they are the best bet for establishing Lunar bases, during a time when agencies from around the world are looking to return to the Moon.
Haruyama states that these caves” 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. The same stable and protected environment that would benefit future human explorers also makes them an enticing target for scientific study.”
“Careful examination of their interiors could provide unique insights concerning the evolutionary history of the moon.”
He says the next step is to fully explore the cave and see if it can live up to their expectations.