Data analyzed from a Japanese space probe has revealed that a gigantic space cave exists on the near side of the Moon. Data indicates that the massive cavern is roughly 328 feet (100 meters) wide, stretches for 31 miles (50 kilometers) and descends some 164 feet (50 meters) under the Moon's surface at its deepest.
The Asahi Shimbun reported this week that the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed the existence of the enormous cavern under the lunar surface, likely a lava tube created by ancient volcanic activity within the Moon itself, and immediately suggested that the extended sub-surface cave might one day be used as the location for a Moon base.
JAXA noted that the cave, located in the Marius Hills area, would be ideal for a future lunar base as its structure lends itself to protecting against the harsh and deadly effects of cosmic radiation and temperatures on the Moon's surface.
The JAXA study found that the cavern was intact, presenting the possibility that the space might contain ice and/or water.
The study was conducted using data derived from the Kayuga space probe (officially JAXA's Selenological and Engineering Explorer, or SELENE), which in 2009 discovered a large shaft opening (about 164 feet — 50 meters — in diameter) in the Moon's surface in the Marius Hills. The team, using lunar radar sounder data, found that the shaft itself descended further beneath the lunar surface, extending west from the opening.
The massive cavern, which is believed to have been created by volcanic activity in the Moon's distant past (which continued until about 1 billion years ago), is considered the result of a lava tube that formed after the outer lava cooled, hardening as molten rock within remained hot and fluid and continued moving toward the lunar surface.
The discovery confirmation comes as several space agencies and private companies have proposed future goals of constructing a Moon base for lunar exploration, and eventually, as a jump-off base for trips to and the possible colonization of Mars.
As Fox News has pointed out, both Elon Musk of SpaceX and Google CEO Jeff Bezos, who also helms the space firm, Blue Origin, have proposed plans for Moon bases. Back in April, it was announced (as reported by the Inquisitr) that China and the European Space Agency were in talks concerning a future joint venture to construct a Moon base. More recently, China, whose space program has moved quickly from manned space flights to plans for exploring Mars in a matter of a few decades, was reportedly headed toward signing a five-year space exploration pact with Russia. Although a Moon base was not mentioned, missions to the Moon were to be included in the agreement.
[Featured Image by bluecrayola/Shutterstock]