NASA Finds What Could Be Perfect Spot for Moon Colony

Scientists at NASA have discovered a series of tunnels on the moon's North Pole, which they speculate could offer shelter and possibly even lead to a hidden source of water for a potential lunar colony.

The tunnels are known as lava tubes -- places where molten lava once flowed through the moon's core millions of years ago. Scientists have known about the network of tubes running through the moon for a while now, but new research regarding the entrances at the north pole was just presented at Nasa's Lunar Science for Landed Missions Workshop in Mountain View, California this week.

The presenters from NASA and Arizona State University explained that the tubes occasionally cave in, leaving "sky-lit" entrances to the underground world. About 200 skylights have been discovered in previous research, all close to the moon's equator.

However, the newly discovered openings lie just 340 miles from the North Pole, where a cash of ice is available to potential space traveling pioneers.

"We are looking at good candidates considering simultaneously their size, shape, lighting conditions and geologic setting," said Dr. Pascal Lee, who is the lead researcher on the project. Lee is a planetary scientist at Ames, and also does work for the nonprofit research organisations the SETI Institute and the Mars Institute.

NASA has had a renewed incentive to send humans into space, since President Donald Trump ordered them to get a manned lunar mission underway in December. Human expeditions to the moon have been halted since the 1970s.

The skylights were found using NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter -- a satellite which has been circling the moon at a distance of 31 kilometers since 2008. The openings are between 50 and 100 feet across, making ideal entry points for a potential shelter.

0comments

"Our next step should be further exploration, to verify whether these pits are truly lava tube skylights, and if they are, whether the lava tubes actually contain ice," Dr Lee said. Finding ice native to the moon would save explorers and scientists valuable space in their shuttles.

"This is an exciting possibility that a new generation of caving astronauts or robotic spelunkers could help address."