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NASA thinks Moon could be full of caves

  • 14 July 2010
  • Written by 
  • Published in Space

The NASA Science article "Down the Lunar Rabbit-Hole" tells of the distinct possibility of giant caverns, caves, and tunnels under the Moon's surface. Giant holes on the lunar surface could lead to "entrances to a geologic wonderland." Go tell Alice we'll be there eventually.


The NASA article appears at "Down the Lunar Rabbit-Hole" with Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit.

The U.S. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft are taking, and have taken, (respectively) many images of caverns hundreds of feet deep underneath the lunar surface.

See images of some of these holes and caverns on the before-mentioned July 12, 2010 NASA Science article.

These caverns were first hypothesized back in the 1960s when the United States was exploring the Moon for its manned Apollo missions.

One such hole'”a pit within the Marius Hills on the Moon'”is described by NASA as 'big enough to fit the White House completely inside.'

Now that NASA has proven that these tunnels and caverns exist under the Moon, the U.S. space agency wants to explore them.

Dr. Mark Robinson, from Arizona State University and a LRO principal investigator, states, "They could be entrances to a geologic wonderland. We believe the giant holes are skylights that formed when the ceilings of underground lava tubes collapsed."

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Robinson adds, "It's exciting that we've now confirmed this idea. The Kaguya and LROC [Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera] photos prove that these caverns are skylights to lava tubes, so we know such tunnels can exist intact at least in small segments after several billion years."

Lava tubes are natural tunnels through which lava travels beneath the surface of a lava flow, after having been expelled by an erupting volcano.

On the Moon, these lava tubes are from extinct volcanoes in which lava flows have ceased to move. What is left behind are possible caverns, caves, and tunnels, or lava tubes.

What is exciting to NASA scientists is the possibility of living inside such lava tubes. Dr. Robinson explains, 'The tunnels offer a perfect radiation shield and a very benign thermal environment. Once you get down to 2 meters [6.5 feet] under the surface of the Moon, the temperature remains fairly constant, probably around -30 to -40 degrees C [or -22 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit]."

Although cold, it is considerably less cold than night-time temperatures on the Moon and much nicer than the extremely hot temperatures during the day.

Page three concludes.



A world waits out there for explorers looking for answers to unsolved questions first asked thousands of years ago. What is on the Moon? And now: What is underneath the Moon?

We'll never know unless we explore further, either with unmanned or manned missions, or a combination of the two.

The Lunar and Planetary Institute, an organization that works with NASA, offers insights on past and future missions to the Moon. Check out 'Exploring the Moon.'



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