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India’s ISRO Discovers Giant Lava Tube Cave Near Lunar Equator! March 17, 2011

Posted by Nick Azer in : Indian Space Research Organization, Lava Tubes, radiation , trackback

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has discovered a giant underground lava tube on the Moon—a potentially ideal environment for a lunar base!

Located just north of the lunar equator within Oceanus Procellarum (the “Ocean of Storms”, and the moon’s largest mare), the ~1 mile long and 395-foot wide cave is an uncollapsed section of a rille (pictured above).

“This is a monster cave.” -Ashutosh Arya, senior Indian geologist; Cave hope for moon house- Indian discovery raises possibility of shelter“,  The Telegraph India

With a roof estimated to be 131 feet thick, the lava tube cave could provide some invaluable benefits as a moon base, including:

“Such natural protection will help cut down the bill for future human habitats.” -A.S. Kiran Kumar, principal investigator for Chandrayaan-1’s Terrain Mapping Camera; “Cave hope for moon house- Indian discovery raises possibility of shelter“,  The Telegraph India

The central location ain’t bad, either:

While there’s perhaps something less romantic about hiding in a cave versus building a big, shiny base on the surface, lava tubes like this should prove to be an invaluable resource. There could be more coming, too: Japan’s Kaguya identified a potential lava tube in 2009, and detailed surveying of the moon is really just getting started. (Check out NASA’s ongoing LRO mission and the public Moon Zoo project for more survey and mapping fun.)

For all the nerdy details, check out the ISRO’s published article on the finding  in the journal Current Science [PDF], and keep an eye here as the ISRO, NASA, China, and others pile up more imaging discoveries :)


1. Practical Bob - March 17, 2011

But you have to wonder when the rest of it will collapse…

2. Nick Azer - March 19, 2011

If it can be shown to have been there a long time, then it could be reliable enough until we can reinforce it somehow. That could still be better than a surface facility made from scratch.

An errant moonquake might mean trouble; be interesting to see the shape and impact lunar seismic activity could make on this kind of thing.