Newly discovered moon cave could house mankind’s first lunar colony

lava tube moon base header
NASA
Earlier this month, at the National Space Council, the White House announced plans to return to the moon after a hiatus of more than 40 years — and this time, we might be staying for a while. A new study has detected the presence of a vast underground lava tube that could shield astronauts from radiation and function as a permanent moon base.

Scientists have hypothesized the presence of such subterranean chambers since the Apollo missions and a new report published in Geophysical Research Letters now officially confirms the presence of a massive lava tube in the Marius Hills region — the largest lunar volcanic dome field. Many moons ago (millions of years specifically), lava sculpted the lunar surface and as these individual channels and systems emptied over time only a hollow cavern would remain.

To date, no human has been on the lunar surface for more than three days for a number of reasons, the most notable being the fact that the moon (which has no atmosphere whatsoever) is a rather inhospitable place for earthlings. Unlike our planet, humans on the moon are subject to the perils associated with cosmic radiation, temperature fluctuations, and the risk posed by even the most minuscule of meteorites. These underground lava tubes could act as in situ shelters to shield astronauts from these hazards.

The team behind the study — comprised of scientists from NASA and JAXA, Japan’s space agency — used data from the SELENE and the twin GRAIL spacecrafts (named Ebb and Flow, respectively) to confirm this extensive lava tube. While analyzing radar data from the SELENE spacecraft, the team noticed a specific echo pattern around the Marius Hills Skylight (a site long suspected to be a lava tube). The researchers also documented similar acoustic patterns in other locations in the area suggesting that there could be more than one lava tube in the region.

While the exact number of lava tubes in this particular area is still unknown, the principle tube acoustically mapped during this study is enormous. In fact, if the data collected is correct, this subterranean cavern could theoretically house some of the largest cities in the United States.

Whether we ever actually return to the moon is anyone’s guess. Nonetheless, it looks like a potential home away from home may already be lurking beneath the lunar surface, and all we’ll need to do is spruce the place up a bit.

Emerging Tech

With cameras that know dogs from Dodges, Honda is making intersections safer

Honda and the city of Marysville, Ohio are working on creating a smart intersection. The goal would not only help better direct the flow of traffic, it could also help save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists.
Emerging Tech

Healthy mice born from two genetic mothers using stem cells, gene editing

Healthy mice have been born from two genetics mothers and later went on to bear healthy offspring of their own, according to a recent paper published by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Smart Home

These awesome treehouses will make you question life on solid ground

Check out these truly awesome treehouses from around the world. From a three-story treehouse in the Costa Rican jungle to a mirrored cube hidden among the trees of Sweden, we’ve got you covered.
Movies & TV

'First Man' turns one small step for man into one amazing movie

First Man, Damien Chazelle's biopic of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong that chronicles the events around the famous 1969 moon landing, is another triumph for the Oscar-winning director.
Movies & TV

15 epic sci-fi novels you should read before they become blockbuster films

You can get ahead of the next crop of science-fiction movies coming out of Hollywood by picking up the books that inspired them. We compiled a list of books you can add to your reading list now to get a glimpse of the future.
Emerging Tech

Boston Dynamics is trying to make fetch happen with its new working robot dog

Boston Dynamics wants to see Spot in the workplace, but not as part of take-your-dog-to-work days. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the technology company believes its extraordinary robo-dog is now ready to start work.
Emerging Tech

Regular paints and plastics will soon be able to ‘heal’ like skin

Imagine if paints, plastics, or other coatings could heal up like human skin in the event that they suffered damage. Thanks to researchers at Clemson University, such technology is almost here.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Microsoft’s Hololens is helping NASA build the new Orion spacecraft

Lockheed Martin is turning to Microsoft’s mixed reality Hololens smartglasses to help build NASA's Orion spacecraft, which could one day help rocket astronauts as far afield as Mars.
Emerging Tech

Shrimp eyes inspire new camera focused on helping self-driving cars see better

By mimicking the vision of mantis shrimp, researchers were able to make significant improvements on today’s commercial cameras. They hope their technology can help mitigate accidents by letting self-driving vehicles see more clearly.
Emerging Tech

This intelligent parachute system can bail out clumsy drone pilots

Parachutes can save drones when they unexpectedly fall from the sky. Among a number of such systems, Austrian firm Drone Rescue is this week showing off its latest design that automatically deploys when it senses trouble.
Cars

‘Bloodhound’ rocket car needs a speedy cash injection to survive

The rocket-powered Bloodhound car has driven into difficulties, with the company behind the project needing a multi-million-dollar cash injection to save its dream of attempting a 1,000 mph land speed record.
Emerging Tech

Tokyo robotic warehouse needs almost no human workers

Uniqlo has unveiled its first robot-powered warehouse that requires 90 percent fewer human workers to operate. The Japanese clothing giant plans to invest close to $1 billion dollars to convert all of its warehouses worldwide.
Emerging Tech

Curious how A.I. 'brains' work? Here's a super-simple breakdown of deep learning

What is deep learning? A branch of machine learning, this field deals with the creation of neural networks that are modeled after the brain and adept at dealing with large amounts of human-oriented data, like writing and voice commands.
Emerging Tech

Drop everything and watch Boston Dynamics’ robo-dog dance to ‘Uptown Funk’

After a few years of Earthbound training, Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini robot dog is ready to take on Mars. Bruno Mars, to be precise. Check out Skynet's future pet as you've never seen it before.