Moon Caves Might Shelter Future Astronauts

NASA studying about 200 lunar pits

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 19, 2014 7:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – If humans ever set up camp on the moon, NASA thinks they can make great use of some natural shelter: moon caves. As Vice explains, the space agency has identified more than 200 lunar pits on the moon's surface, and those pits lead to caves below that range anywhere from 5 yards to 1,000 yards in diameter. It's not entirely clear how the caves formed, but NASA floats one hypothesis: Ancient lava flows created voids beneath the surface, and then nearby meteor strikes caused the roofs to cave in.

"Pits would be useful in a support role for human activity on the lunar surface," says Arizona State University's Robert Wagner, whose photo-scanning algorithm identified most of them, notes Universe Today. "A habitat placed in a pit—ideally several dozen meters back under an overhang—would provide a very safe location for astronauts: no radiation, no micrometeorites, possibly very little dust, and no wild day-night temperature swings." The next step is to drop a probe into one of holes to look around. Bonus: The research could shed light on how surface patterns such as the "man on the moon" formed. (Click to read about how the moon is older than we thought.)

Astronauts might be able to live in moon caves someday.
Astronauts might be able to live in moon caves someday.   (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
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A NASA video on the lunar pits.   (YouTube)

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