The moon cave detected by SELENE. Image Credit: JAXA

A huge cave has been discovered on the moon

  • BY AG Staff |
  • October 19, 2017

Scientists from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency who discovered the cave say that it could be used as a base for astronauts, especially if it's found to contain water.

THE JAPAN Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has discovered an enormous underground cave on the moon, which experts say could be used as a shelter for astronauts during missions.

According to space probe data gathered by JAXA the large cave, believed to be the result of volcanic activity stretches 50kms below the Moon’s surface and is around 100ms wide.

It's been suggested that this 'lava tube', located near several volcanic domes known as 'Marius Hill', could have formed 3.5 billion years ago.

selene detects moon cave

The Selenological and Engineering Explorer. (Image Credit: JAXA)

Evidence of the cave first emerged back in 2009 after the Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE), a JAXA moon probe, detected a 50m wide cave opening.

Officials from JAXA say that the cave has the potential to protect astronauts from sun radiation and cosmic rays. If further exploration of the cave reveals deposits of water it’s possible that astronauts could use the cave as a base. 

Stephen Hughes, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, Physics and Mechanical Engineering at the Queensland University of Technology says that it's possible that there is an extensive array of lava tubes all over the moon. 

He with agreed with JAXA that the caves could function as protection shelters for astronauts. 

"These 'moon mansions' would be great places for future human bases since they would afford protection from cosmic radiation, direct meteorite hits, and flying debris from meteors crashing into the lunar surface elsewhere on the moon," Stephen told Australian Geographic.

"On the moon, there is no protective atmosphere and so every incoming meteoroid hits the surface. In fact, many of them will actually speed up since they will accelerate in the moon's gravitational field. Since 2005, NASA's Lunar Impact Monitoring program has detected 300 meteor hits, and these are only the ones large enough to see in telescopes on the earth."

Stephen added that the caves could protect against the extreme diurnal variation in surface temperature, which ranges from 107 'C in the day  and -154 'C at night. 

"The temperature in a lunar cave would be constant at -20 'C.  This is similar to terrestrial caves being at a constant temperature, and therefore a good place to store wine, not that Moon Merlot will be produced any time soon."

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