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Moon NASA Science

NASA: Lunar Pits and Caves Could House Astronauts 157

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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  • 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 Gavagai80 ( 1275204 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @03:14PM (#47490041) Homepage
    The ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes. The moon has a two week long night. Storing power through the latter is a much bigger issue.
  • by FatLittleMonkey ( 1341387 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @06:48PM (#47491007)

    reverting to a past we had here on earth by living in caves

    Ancient humans didn't "live in caves". Caves are just especially good as preserving signs of human activity. You'll note the decided lack of cave dwelling amongst remnant hunter gatherers in the modern world.

  • by KeensMustard ( 655606 ) on Saturday July 19, 2014 @07:48PM (#47491261)
    Except that it isn't. The moon is so close that none of the actual problems assoicated with human space travel even come into focus. And of course, it is not 'pushing further into space'. We've been to the edge of the solar system, we've visited comets, plunged into the icy atmosphere of Titan.

    By us, of course I mean our machines, not physical humans - the distinction between abstracting 'our' presence via a machine or by the physical presence of a bunch of humans we've never met and are not related to us is purely arbitrary. What makes humans distinct from other creatures is that we can abstract our intent into machines that fulfill that intent: ploughs, swords, trains, coaches, treaties, man pages, computers, space probes. We are not limited by the limitations of our physical bodies.

    To suggest that we, ill adapted to space as we are, ought to go physically into space instead of sending a machine is absurd - like saying that a field is only plowed if dug by hand, or the only correct calculation is done without the aid of a computer, calculator or abacus.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas