News, Science

Cave On The Moon Could Be Base For Astronauts

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Marius Crater. Image: NASA

Scientists from JAXA, the Japanese space agency, say they have discovered an enormous underground cave on the moon.

The discovery is exciting because the cave could provide a safe place for astronauts to live and work on future missions to the moon.

In 2009, a lunar probe launched by JAXA sent back images of the cave’s entrance. The probe used radar to determine the underground structures below the entrance and sent the information back to JAXA to be analyzed.

In October, JAXA announced that there appears to be a cavern about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and 100 metres (328 feet) wide leading from the opening.

Scientists say the cave could make an ideal base for astronauts. It would protect the astronauts and their equipment from the extreme heat and cold on the moon’s surface. It would also help keep them safe from micrometeorites (tiny particles of space dust) that land on the moon, and from the harmful rays of the sun.

Marius Crater Hills. Image: NASA

The walls of the cave itself could allow scientists to study the rocks that make up the moon and learn about its history.

The cave is believed to be a lava tube – a hollow space formed by a river of molten lava that flowed under the hardened surface about 3.5 billion years ago. It is located in an area made up of lava domes, known as Marius Hills. Space programs in many countries, including Japan, China, Russia and the United States, are working on sending astronauts back to the moon. Twelve astronauts have walked on the moon so far. The first was in 1969 and the last was in 1972.

An overhead view of the Marius Hills dome field taken from the Lunar Orbiter 4 spacecraft. Image: NASA

 

Related Links
NASA: Peeking into lunar pits video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQLWIuaNg68

Facts about the Moon: https://space-facts.com/the-moon/

Videos of Apollo 11 Mission: https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/hd/apollo11_hdpage.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The 50 km cave on the moon sounds like a great setting for an adventure, doesn’t it? Make a 9-25 frame comic that tells the story of a mission on the moon. One rule, your story must include the cave base.

Reading Prompt: Metacognition
What did you know about the moon before you started reading today’s article? How did you use your previous knowledge to help you understand today’s article? Did you read new information that supported or challenged your previous knowledge?

Primary
Identify, initially with some support and direction, what strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading and how they can use these and other strategies to improve as readers (OME, Reading: 4.1).

Junior
Identify the strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading and explain, in conversation with the teacher and/or peers or in a reader’s notebook, how they can use these and other strategies to improve as readers (OME, Reading: 4.1).

Intermediate
Identify a range of strategies they found helpful before, during, and after reading and explain, in conversation with the teacher and/or peers or in a reader’s notebook, how they can use these and other strategies to improve as readers (OME, Reading: 4.1).

Language Feature: Vocab Grab
Here’s a good one courtesy of gocampbellriver.com, “The term spelunker is often used in the United States to describe a recreational cave explorer.  The term comes from the Latin word “spelunca”, which means cave.  Canadian cave explorers are known as cavers.”