European Lunar Scientists and Engineers Design Moon Cave Explorer

ESA gathered a spectrum of experts in many different areas of science and engineering to design a mission to enter a pit on the Moon’s surface and explore the entrance to a lunar cave. The key parts of the mission would be a crane attached to a rover, and a probe that is lowered by the crane into the pit. (Credit: ESA/Vigea)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Lunar caves are not only a geologically pristine record of the Moon’s history, but they could also provide a safe home for future human explorers. Building upon ESA Discovery’s OSIP call and SysNova challenge, ESA gathered a spectrum of over 60 experts in many different areas of science and engineering to design a mission to enter a pit on the Moon’s surface and explore the entrance to a lunar cave.

The Moon is dotted with pits that scientists think could lead to huge underground tunnels. But a space mission has never been sent to explore what could lie within.

“A view into the interior of a lunar cave would be true exploration – it would reveal unexpected scientific information,” says Francesco Sauro, cave scientist and planetary lava tube expert, as well as technical course director of ESA CAVES and PANGAEA.

(more…)

ESA Plans Mission to Explore Lunar Caves

Three images of the Marius Hills pit imaged by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. This pit is about 34 metres deep and 65 by 90 metres wide. Marius Hills and other pits may be ‘skylights’ into extensive lava tubes. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

PARIS (ESA PR) — In a first step towards uncovering the Moon’s subterranean secrets, in 2019 we asked for your ideas to detect, map and explore lunar caves. Five ideas were selected to be studied in more detail, each addressing different phases of a potential mission.

(more…)

Will Astronauts Follow in the Footsteps of Caveman Ancestors?

Le Moustier Neanderthals (Charles R. Knight, 1920)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As their name implies, cavemen and their families lived in caves to protect themselves from the dangers of weather, wild animals and alien monoliths that might suddenly appear on the savannah.

As humanity prepares to take its next evolutionary step — the permanent settlement of the moon and Mars — it looks like it will be heading back to the caves. Or, more accurately, lava tubes that will protect astronauts from dangers of radiation and solar storms.

Ah oui. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose….

(more…)