by Jiji Kyodo
October 18, 2017
from JapanTimes Website




This undated satellite photo taken by the lunar orbiter Kaguya

shows a 50-meter hole on the moon's surface

that leads to a 50-km-long cave.



A huge moon cave (pictured)

that could one day shelter astronauts has been discovered.

Data taken from Japan's Selene lunar orbiter

has confirmed the existence of the 31 mile (50 km) long

and 330 foot (100 meter) wide cavern.




Observation data collected by Japan's lunar orbiter Kaguya has found a cave stretching about 50 km (30 miles) on the moon that could potentially serve as a shelter for astronauts on future missions, an international research team including the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has said.

The cave could protect astronauts from radiation from the sun and cosmic rays if they build a base for exploration, the team said Wednesday.

The cave, believed to be a lava tube created about 3.5 billion years ago, sits beneath an area with a group of volcanic domes called the Marius Hills, it said.


Japan's lunar orbiter Kaguya

is seen in this computer-generated image.



The lunar orbiter initially found a hole about 50 meters in diameter and depth. Further surveys of the area with radio waves discovered the lava tube, the researchers said.

The cave is believed to have a width of several tens of meters.

Like caves found around Mount Fuji and the island of Hawaii, the cave on the moon is highly likely to have been formed after the lava surface solidified following a fall in temperature, according to the researchers.

"The cave is a scientifically useful place," said Tetsuya Kaku, a graduate student at Tokai University involved in the study.

Tetsuya Kaku cited the possibility of finding minerals produced when the moon was formed as well as water.

The researchers published their finding (Detection of Intact Lava Tubes at Marius Hills on the Moon by SELENE - Kaguya - Lunar Radar Sounder) in U.S. journal Geophysical Research Letters.





JAXA Probe finds...

50-km Cavern under Surface of the Moon
by Seiji Tanaka
October 18, 2017

from Asahi Website

The Asahi Shimbun

Space probe data confirmed that an enormous cavern stretching for about 50 kilometers exists beneath the moon's surface, offering a possible protected site for future lunar bases, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said Oct. 18.

The cavern, found in the Marius Hills area on the near side of the moon, is about 100 meters wide and extends for about 50 km, according to data taken by JAXA's Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE), also called the Kaguya moon probe.

In 2009, the Kaguya probe found a large shaft with an opening about 50 meters in diameter in the Marius Hills area. The shaft descends about 50 meters beneath the surface.


The Marius Hills

on the near side of the moon

(Provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)


The JAXA team analyzed data obtained from a lunar radar sounder on the probe that indicated an underground structure extended west from the shaft.

The study confirmed that the cavern, likely created by volcanic activity, has not collapsed, and there is the possibility of ice or water existing in rocks within the cave, the team said.

If future lunar explorers could use the underground space for a base, it could provide shelter from cosmic radiation and menacing temperatures, while water or ice could be used as fuel, the JAXA team said.

It is widely believed the moon was rocked by large-scale volcanic activity until about 1 billion years ago.

The cavern is believed to have been a lava tube formed when the outer lava cooled and hardened while the melted rock within remained hot and continued to flow.