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Rugged lava flows on the Moon revealed

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WASHINGTON (BNS): Moon has revealed a deep hole for the first time. The discovery has strengthened evidence for sub-surface, lava-carved channels that could shield future human colonists from space radiation and other hazards.

According to the geophysical research journal by the American Geophysical Union, the moon seems to have long, winding tunnels called lava tubes which are similar to structures visible on Earth. They are created when the top of a stream of molten rock solidifies and the lava inside drains away, leaving a hollow tube of rock.

Their existence on the moon is hinted at based on observations of sinuous rilles – long, winding depressions carved into the lunar surface by the flow of lava. Some sections of the rilles have collapsed, suggesting that hollow lava tubes hide beneath at least some of the rilles. But until now, no one has found an opening into what appears to be an intact tube.

The research work is led by Junichi Haruyama and others of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. The team found the first candidate skylight in a volcanic area on the moon's near side called Marius Hills. The hole measures 65 metres across, and based on images taken at a variety of sun angles, the hole is thought to extend down at least 80 metres.

Such a discovery could work as a boon for the future astronauts as the tubes' ceilings could protect astronauts from space radiation, meteoroid impacts and wild temperature changes. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter can provide valuable inputs in this regard, as per the research journal.


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