A planetary scientist believes he may have found the sweet spot humans need to set up a permanent base on the moon.
Pascal Lee, the co-founder and chairman of the Mars Institute and a SETI scientist, says he has identified small pits in the floor of the 70km long Philolaus Crater that could potentially be “skylights” in subterranean channels created by collapsing lava tubes.
That lava tubes could be our best bet for a moon base shielded from harmful radiation is not a new idea. The problem – until now – has been finding a lava tube in the moon’s polar regions.
A habitable lava tube in the moon’s polar region could theoretically give access to ice, and therefore, water. Importantly, ice water that has been stored underground, which means ice water that isn’t tainted by surface deposits like soil and broken rock.
That’s known as “regolith” and on the moon, it’s particularly nasty. Especially the fine dust, which can damage virtually everything because it has jagged edges, as it hasn’t been subject to any weathering process. It may also have organic content.
And pits which let the sun in also have the potential to provide solar power.
Lee admits there is not “100% certainty” the highest resolution pics of the Philolaus Crater pics show lavatube skylights. But he believes they are good candidates for further study.
At the very least, of the more than 200 pits found on the moon’s surface, Lee’s are the first to place both a skylight and a lava tube in the polar regions.
Here’s what it would look like coming in to land for your three-year stint mining helium-3: