Organization:365 Days Of Astronomy
Description: Space scoop, news for children.
Bio: Richard Drumm is President of the Charlottesville Astronomical Society and President of 3D – Drumm Digital Design, a video production company with clients such as Kodak, Xerox and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. He was an observer with the UVa Parallax Program at McCormick Observatory in 1981 & 1982. He has found that his greatest passion in life is public outreach astronomy and he pursues it at every opportunity.
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This is the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast. Today we bring you a new episode in our Space Scoop series. This show is produced in collaboration with Universe Awareness, a program that strives to inspire every child with our wonderful cosmos.
The Hidden Sites for our Future Home on the Moon
For many people, visions of our future in space consist of rotating spacecraft, lunar greenhouses and domed habitats.
But if you’re dreaming of a new life beyond the Earth, you might want to rethink things. Lava tubes on the Moon could become the prime real estate of the future!
The Moon is our closest neighbor. At just three days travel from Earth, it’s an obvious target for humanity’s first home-away-from-home.
To help make this dream a reality, scientists have been researching lava tubes here on Earth that are much like those that might exist on the Moon and Mars.
Photos of the Moon show chains of collapsed pits on the surface, suggesting that there might be enormous caverns and tunnels hidden underneath. The tunnels could be part of huge networks, large enough to fit streets or even towns for future explorers.
Despite being our closest neighbor and every bit as much in the Sun’s habitable zone as Earth is, the Moon is a far more hostile place than Earth.
Temperatures on the surface can range from a high of 260°F to -280°F or 127°Celsius to -173°C!
This is mostly because there isn’t an atmosphere on the Moon like we have here on Earth. Our atmosphere, in addition to being nice to breathe, can act like an insulating blanket on cold nights.
Living underground on the Moon would protect us from these deadly temperature swings and block the Sun’s dangerous radiation.
Not only that but we’d be safe from cosmic rays and micrometeorites as well. Truly a win-win situation!
Plus, underground havens like these could be perfect for alien life which might be living on the Moon or Mars. The tubes could be many kilometers long, with plenty of room for both exploring and habitat modules.
To learn more about the underground caves on the Moon, scientists have turned to lava tubes here on Earth. Like the caves on the Moon, these were formed by lava flowing underground.
I’ve walked through new lava tubes in Hawaii and old ones in Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument. It should be possible to put inflatable habitats like the ones that Bigleow Aerospace is designing in these tubes for astronauts to live and work in.
With the Moon and Mars having lower gravity, the tubes could be significantly larger than the tubes here on Earth.
ESA astronauts are being trained in the lava tubes in the Canary Islands, learning how to carry out the research they may need to do during future missions to the Moon or Mars.
Hey, Here’s A Cool Fact:
To get a better view of lava tubes on the Moon, we’d need a meteor to collapse or puncture the cave roof, revealing the tunnels hidden below.
And this is exactly what we have seen. The so-called skylights are where the ceiling of the tube has collapsed, revealing the otherwise invisible lava tube. Go to Google Images and type in “lunar lava tube” and you’ll see the ones on the Moon.
And you’ll see ones here on Earth too. Do a search for Mars lava tube and you’ll see ones we’ve found on Mars. It’s a common occurrence to find them wherever there’s volcanism,
You can also go to the satellite view in Google Maps and find similar skylights in the lava tubes that I walked through at Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Thank you for listening to the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast!
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by Astrosphere New Media. Audio post-production by Richard Drumm. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. This year we will celebrate more discoveries and stories from the universe. Join us and share your story. Until tomorrow! Goodbye!