Lunar Lava Tubes Reveal Potential Alien Life on the Moon
Scientists believe that some craters on the moon's surface might actually be skylights, signifying cold lava tubes that lead to large, underground ice caves.
Similar findings on Earth have resulted in important discoveries. In Hawaii, for instance, lava tubes are formed sometimes over the course of a couple of weeks following an eruption from the Earth's crust. Kazumura, Earth's longest-mapped lava tube, stretches over 40 miles and reaches widths the size of a subway tunnel.
If something similar exists on the moon, this would mean that we'd have access to large quantities of its water, according to Pascal Lee, senior planetary scientist at SETI, who analyzed new data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
"The highest resolution images available for Philolaus Crater do not allow the pits to be identified as lava tube skylights with 100 percent certainty, but we are looking at good candidates considering simultaneously their size, shape, lighting conditions and geologic setting," Lee said when presenting his findings at the Ames Research Center in California.
The new pits were identified on the northeastern floor of Philolaus Crater, a 43-mile hole about 340 miles from the Moon's North Pole of the Moon. That the pits are located along sections of winding channels, known on the Moon as "sinuous rilles," is significant, as lunar sinuous rilles are widely considered to be collapsed lava tubes. While researchers had previously found over 200 similar potential skylights, Lee presented the first published report of such lava tubes existing near one of the Moon's poles.
While extracting ice from the deep recesses of the Moon would be no small feat, even having that access sets the mind reeling. We know that water is one of the key ingredients for life on other planets, suggesting that even if there's no man on the moon, the jury's still out as to whether or not there's a man in there.
The presence of these caves would also make a long-term lunar base all that more feasible. The Moon could even become an interplanetary gas station, considering how water behaves a whole lot like the rocket propellant hydrazine in space. Maybe that's why NASA is currently working on a lunar rover that will mine water to do just that.
That refueling station could also become the cornerstone of NASA's plans to build a gateway to the far reaches of deep space. Part of the struggle of space colonization is a matter of finite resources that currently make traveling all those extra light years little more than a suicide mission. To this end, setting up a colony on the Moon would make a whole lot of sense—particularly with an abundance of water, the building block of life.
Though this may sound like science fiction, NASA is already working in concert with 14 space agencies around the world to make this gateway a reality. The "Global Exploration Roadmap", which may be published in more detail as early as this month, will set out the specifics of how Earth's scientists will establish an orbital base, before moving on to travel elsewhere in the cosmos.
The Deep Space Gateway will also be home to a large space station that will serve as a base of operations from which to launch missions, both manned and unmanned, across known space. Initially conceived as a destination part-way between the Earth and the Moon as a bridge between two bodies, Lee's report suggests that the Moon itself might actually be the ideal location for such a destination.