Chinese scientists are investigating the feasibility of creating a long-term, secure, and stable home on the moon within lunar lava tubes.
When molten rock flowed beneath the cemented top layer of lava billions of years ago, it produced these hollow, pipe-shaped tunnels. Geological activity, impact events, and moonquakes have caused parts of these tubes to collapse over time, creating accessible “skylights” that offer access to the moon’s subsurface realm.
According to CGTN, Zhang Chongfeng of the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology presented the work during the 10th CSA-IAA Conference on Advanced Space Technology.
These lava tubes provide shelter from the severe lunar surface conditions, including high temperatures, radiation, and micrometeorite impacts, according to Zhang, who is also the vice chief designer of China’s Shenzhou series spacecraft and lunar landers.
To better comprehend lunar lava tubes, Zhang and his colleagues have carried out research in various lava caves in China with the assistance of China’s planetary geology specialists.
They discovered parallels between the lava tubes on Earth and the moon, which may be divided into vertical entry tubes and slope entrance tubes.
The lunar lava tubes in Mare Tranquillitatis and Mare Fecunditatis have been chosen by Chinese researchers as their main exploration focus. The primary probe will contain auxiliary detectors for relay communication and energy support and employ a robotic mobility system to traverse difficult terrain.
Additionally, it will have scientific payloads to investigate the landscape, material composition, and the lava tube’s outside and entry environments.
The use of rolling detectors and bionic multi-legged crawling will be performed by auxiliary detectors. They will also be equipped with payloads that can measure the lunar tube’s temperature, radiation, lunar dust, soil composition, and water ice.
Zhang suggested creating a long-term subterranean research station within a lunar lava tube for future crewed lunar bases. This would entail beautifying the area, placing cottages within the tube, and constructing an energy and communication support centre at the tube’s entrance.