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:
- Natural protection from radiation and meteorites, with radiation only expected to penetrate down only about 20 feet of the roof’s 131;
- A far more balanced temperature than the surface (a steady -4°F compared to day/night swings of 248°F to -292 °F); and
- A ready, premade exterior structure.
“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 :)
Bulgaria, Chandrayaan-1, Chandrayaan-1 Payload Features, Indian Space Research Organization, Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, NASA, radiation , add a comment
Today is the fourth in a series of features on each of the Indian lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1’s scientific payloads. The Chandrayaan-1 has 11 scientific instruments onboard to complete an array of measurements: five Indian instruments, and six from other nations and organizations (including the ESA and NASA).
Radiation Dose Monitor Experiment (RADOM)
The RADOM is essentially looking to get results (like those pictured above) on just how much radiation there is in lunar orbit and around the surface, so future moon missions have a clearer image if just how much radiation protection is needed.
“”We really need to know more about the radiation environment on the Moon, especially if people will be staying there for more than just a few days,” says Harlan Spence, a professor of astronomy at Boston University.”
-“Radioactive Moon”, by Patrick L. Barry, NASA
The Apollo astronauts were never out in the radiation for long, so creative solutions are needed to shield long-term settlement. But, first, it needs to be known just how much radiation there is to shield from; and the RADOM is a big step towards that.
For all the full scientific details on the payload straight from the Bulgarians, check out this document. :)
Keep checking back here for more payload features, Chandrayaan-1 news, and a complete wealth of updates and information about the base race, private space boom, and everything else with the true introduction of Man to Luna :)
One Giant Leap for Plantkind? July 27, 2008Posted by Nick Azer in : gravity, lunar plantlife, radiation , add a comment
According to a nifty Wired.com blog article, NASA scientists put forward the idea this week of launching plants to the moon and watching their growth carefully, as a way of studying the potential effects of long-term habitation (low gravity, radiation, etc.).
Check out the linked article for a full rundown of thaliana‘s moon-faring resume.
Magnetic Attraction July 22, 2008Posted by Nick Azer in : Constellation, Helium-3, hoax theories, Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, radiation, Vision for Space Exploration , add a comment
One concern that gets voiced about lunar colonization is the levels of radiation colonists could be exposed to, and how much of a threat that is (and whether there is sufficient methods of protection against it).
“We really need to know more about the radiation environment on the Moon, especially if people will be staying there for more than just a few days.”
-Harlan Spence, astronomy professor at Boston University
Mapping out and investigating the levels of radiation is one the central goals of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission, the first tentpole mission of the landmark Vision for Space Exploration/Constellation era.
Various remedies and shields have been suggested, including isolated magnetic fields (like Reiner Gamma, pictured above; these are speculated to be a result of crater- and other ejecta), spherical man-made shields (pictured below), and even the Earth itself.
I personally trust in human ingenuity to come up with something, and the lack of effects on the Apollo astronauts seems promising (though many seem to think that indicates the whole Apollo landing was actually a hoax). At the very least, the commercial motivation for a company to come up with something that could enable colonization (and therefore utilization of groundbreaking resources) could eventually (or very quickly) become too strong to be ignored.
To cap, here’s a segment on the subject from a NASA video (Destination Tomorrow), courtesy of Youtube: