Researchers from Japan and the United States have uncovered new evidence to prove that there are crater-like features on the lunar surface that might be entrances to giant caverns carved long ago by flowing lava. These features actually exist, which is good news for future lunar colonists looking for a convenient and safe place to live.
Research published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that several pits, located near the Marius Hill region of the Moon, are larger open lava tubes and that these ancient caverns have the potential to offer, in the words of the researchers, a “pristine environment to conduct scientific examination of the Moon’s composition and potentially serve as secure shelters for humans and instruments.” The team, which included scientists from NASA and Japan’s space agency, JAXA, combined radar and gravity data to make the finding.
There is no doubt that these caverns would be the perfect spots for aspiring lunar colonists. Inside these large underground chambers, humans would be protected from the Sun's dangerous rays, and other hazards. The Moon has no atmosphere to speak of, so these "instant" shelters would be a hugely advantageous.
JAXA scientists analyzed radar data from the SELEN spacecraft, which was designed to study the origins of the Moon and its geological history. This instrument is also good for detecting lunar lava tubes by bouncing radar off the lunar surface. By peppering the entrance to suspected caverns, scientists were able to detect a distinctive echo pattern, this pattern signified the presence of a floor and a ceiling to these underground chambers. Because the scientists found several similar echo patterns at locations nearby, there may be more than one cavern.
Quite suddenly the Moon seems like a more welcoming place than the Red Planet. It is time for us to go back!