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Moon NASA Science

NASA: Lunar Pits and Caves Could House Astronauts 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the assuming-we-ever-go-back dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Astronomers have documented hundreds of holes on the lunar surface. These aren't simply craters, but actual pits ranging from 5 to 900 meters across. Scientists suspects many of these will lead to underground cave systems, which NASA says would be great spots for an astronaut habitat once we get back to the Moon. "A habitat placed in a pit — ideally several dozen meters back under an overhang — would provide a very safe location for astronauts: no radiation, no micrometeorites, possibly very little dust, and no wild day-night temperature swings," said Robert Wagner of Arizona State University. He says it's time to send probes into a few of these pits to see what they're like: "Pits, by their nature, cannot be explored very well from orbit — the lower walls and any floor-level caves simply cannot be seen from a good angle. Even a few pictures from ground-level would answer a lot of the outstanding questions about the nature of the voids that the pits collapsed into. We're currently in the very early design phases of a mission concept to do exactly this, exploring one of the largest mare pits."

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NASA: Lunar Pits and Caves Could House Astronauts

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  • I suppose that, like a proctologist encountering Goatse Guy... this "exploratory spelunking" will indeed need to be done from a distance. ;)
    • by mikael (484)

      There's just an opportunity in Siberia - just opened up this week. Current theories are giant sandworms, graboids, pingo's, ufo's or an alien missile base:

      http://sploid.gizmodo.com/myst... [gizmodo.com]

      • There's just an opportunity in Siberia - just opened up this week. Current theories are giant sandworms, graboids, pingo's, ufo's or an alien missile base:

        The ideal finding, of course, would be all of the above.

        "Visitors: to ensure optimum relations with the locals, no anal probes will be allowed beyond this point. You may check them in at Customs and reclaim them on your return home.

        "Mind the sandworms."

  • Only if the US could get it's space program off mothballs... But there's no room in the budget for that due to the black budget takeover...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The space program is a lot more productive now than when we were focused on a retarded war with the Russians. Unlike the 60's, we're actually doing basic science and planetary science missions now instead of chest thumping bravado.

      • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @04:46PM (#47490461)

        The space program is a lot more productive now than when we were focused on a retarded war with the Russians. Unlike the 60's, we're actually doing basic science and planetary science missions now instead of chest thumping bravado.

        Much of the science and tech of today's planetary missions are the result of military tech and those glory days of NASA manned missions. Those manned lunar missions were preceded by various robotic lunar missions.

        The cold war greatly benefited the space program, it funded its tech. That chest thumping got the public behind all that spending on space. NASA and the US space program suffer today because of a lack of interest by the people. Fortunately the civilian commercial space industry seems to be coming along quite nicely.

      • by Sciath (3433615)
        Even if your assertion were correct, all that science is in large part superfluous if not geared toward populating other celestial bodies. Which by the way was essentially abandoned 40 years ago because American politicians were (and still do) view manned space exploration as a waste of time and resources. It is only now, because of the costs involved is there ANY public or private interest in manned space flight in the U.S. And that may only be because of the strategic implications because China has recent
  • by nospam007 (722110) * on Saturday July 19, 2014 @12:15PM (#47489157)

    Newt Gingrich isn't getting any younger, and that Moon-town needs a Mayor.

  • ...hich NASA says would be great spots for an astronaut habitat if we get back to the Moon. "A habitat placed in a p...
  • by gb7djk (857694) * on Saturday July 19, 2014 @12:23PM (#47489217) Homepage
    Which is code for "extremely cold all the time".
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I attended a talk by Dr. Red Whittaker (from CMU) after robotic exploration of the moon. His team is going after the Google Lunar X Prize. They're planning on sending their robot down into a crater to peek into one of these caves.

  • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @12:36PM (#47489285) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like a cool idea to me, but it seems a bit like a cosmic joke that we would in a way be reverting to a past we had here on earth by living in caves. The symbolism is nice, though; starting over in a new environment.

  • by hedgemage (934558) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @12:40PM (#47489309)
    Scientific films of yesteryear have informed us that any lunar caves are inhabited by insect men. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt00... [imdb.com]
    • But scientific books of the 1970s have informed us that lunar caves actually contain bodies of 50,000-year-old human astronauts [amazon.com]. I'm looking forward to that!
      • It is possible that there have been human-like creatures before, they evolved, left the planet, and all of us monkeys down here, and we re-evolved from chimps, gorillas and orangutans into some more human-like apes, while they turned into angels with Jetson-like flight and ghost-like cloaking technology. In fact we may repeat the same thing, and then you're talking angels of version 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, each being thousands of years ahead in technology from the crowd following, and acting like supernatural beings
        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          It is possible that there have been human-like creatures before, they evolved, left the planet,

          You missed out the bit about cleaning up every sign that they'd ever existed. Which is not a trait that any human society has ever had.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yep. It'd be in shadow all the time which means it would be perpetually cold. 26 to 35 Kelvin cold.

    That means to maintain the habitat, you'd have to have a perpetual power source. To me, that says you look at the poles with an eye towards building mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a heat collector. The poles are more likely to have a site that has both a pit and more or less full time sun. Unless of course, you want to ship a nuclear reactor to the moon in which case you'll need political will which is sca

    • by ledow (319597) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:14PM (#47489457) Homepage

      Like, gosh, space for instance?

      The ISS isn't exactly sitting there in a cosy blanket with a fire on... it's fighting against things just as cold.

      Also, the amount of insulation you can carry is ENORMOUS (because most insulation is nothing more than pockets of gas trapped in a thin substrate, so think "expanding foam" instead of "brick"). Insulation means you don't care what it is outside - once the inside has been warmed once, you are only fighting the speed which heat leaks through the insulation. Anything decent and modern and we're talking minimal loss.

      Otherwise, quite literally, you would die camping in the Antarctic with only clothes and a little tent to keep you warm.

      Heat's not the problem, if you've already got the power, the infrastructure, the ability to move the materials, to shore up the place, build a structure, move into it, and live independently inside it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, having a permanent cold source like that is a huge advantage, since the thermodynamic efficiency depends on the absolute temperature difference. So you'd need to spend less fuel to get the same energy/work out.

      As for habitats, with sufficient insulation, humans generate more than enough body heat to keep it cozy. You'd probably even need airco to get rid of excess heat.

    • Yep. It'd be in shadow all the time which means it would be perpetually cold. 26 to 35 Kelvin cold.

      Space doesn't work like that. Without air to transfer the heat away you're basically living in an environment with really thick insulation at all times and you actually need to find ways of transferring excess heat away, not generating more of it. If you jump out of a space station or space ship without any suit it's not the cold that kills you, it's the pressure. It would actually take a long, long time for you to even reach the point of hypothermia in space, let alone anything worse.

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      Yep. It'd be in shadow all the time which means it would be perpetually cold. 26 to 35 Kelvin cold.

      Not so. From Wikipedia :
      Surface temp.
      min mean max
      Equator 100 K 220 K 390 K
      85ÂN [6] 70 K 130 K 230 K

      (Near-surface) cave systems internally attain the mean temperature of their surface environment over a period of decades or centuries (depending considerably on the rate of heat movement by air flow ; negligible in this case). So a mean temperature

  • This is exactly what I said a few weeks ago [slashdot.org].

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yup.

  • The movie 2001? They land on the moon and descend into a pit.
  • by sphealey (2855) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @01:34PM (#47489581)

    Time to re-read _A Fall of Moondust_

    sPh

  • I was unaware that there was any verification that caves even exist on the moon.

    And considering the processes that form practically all natural caves here on earth (that I am aware of) involve moving water, or at least glacial movement, I'm not sure how anything like that would ever form on the moon.

    • Darn... hit submit too soon. The instant I clicked it I realized I had neglected to mention caves formed by volcanic activity. I don't think the moon ever had that either, however.
    • Courtesy of the US Forest Service:

      http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/por... [usda.gov]

      • by mark-t (151149)
        Yes... I noted lava-created caves as well in my followup comment, above. But the moon doesn't have volcanic activity, nor is there evidence that it ever did.
        • by tomhath (637240)
          FTFA:

          Most pits were found either in large craters with impact melt ponds – areas of lava that formed from the heat of the impact and later solidified, or in the lunar maria – dark areas on the moon that are extensive solidified lava flows hundreds of miles across.

        • It's a known fact that the moon once had a lot of volcanic activity. Remaining volcanos are dormant, but lava tubes still exist.
  • Video games and movies have been doing this for along time, either on the moon or an asteroids.
  • The astronauts had better hope that there are no Lunar sarlaccs.

  • If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

  • Probably the first men in the moon [manybooks.net] will be McDonalds, for their new McMooncalf burger.
  • Um, no. We're not going to the moon or anywhere like it. The economy will likely collapse again before the end of the decade. There won't be the money or the resources. Sending robotic missions makes more sense. Sending people is a dumb idea. We evolved to live here. We are expensive to travel and hard to settle. Machines are constructed to do certain things in certain environments. They are more capable than humans in that regard. Send them to get fried by coronal mass ejections.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      im glad that better people than you do not share your cynicism

    • he economy will likely collapse again before the end of the decade. There won't be the money or the resources.

      That's an interesting prediction.......based on what?

      • based on Energy Return on Energy Invested. Our civilisation is doing a fantastically poor job of switching away from fossil fuel.
  • >> it's time to send probes into a few of these pits to see what they're like

    Great! Finally we will now discover all the moon-alien hives and secret Nazi UFO moonbases!

  • so you mean to tell me that after thousands of years and billions of dollars that we're going to go to the moon to be cave men? Talk about coming full circle.

  • We will finally have the first men IN the Moon after all.

    And will they meet the insectoid creatures called the Selenites?

  • Living in a cave on the moon? Why?

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