NASA Moon landing: Astronauts could live in CAVES on the Moon by 2024, claims scientist

NASA aims to send astronauts back to the Moon by 2024, 52 years after the last Apollo 17 lunar landing. NASA’s renewed interest in the Moon involves setting up a permanent base of residence on the Moon and in lunar orbit. Towards this lofty goal, NASA’s scientists are exploring different ways in which astronauts can safely set up camp on the Moon. One of the more intriguing proposals is for astronauts to explore and settle ancient lava tubes running beneath the surface of the Moon.

The incredible plan was proposed by Dr Daniel Moriarty, a post-doctoral lunar scientist at NASA, during an online “ask me anything” session on the website Reddit.

Asked about the possibility of drilling tunnels into the Moon, Dr Moriarty said such a feat would be beyond the scope of the 2024 mission.

But the presence of pre-existing lava tubes – tunnels which formed as a result of ancient lava flows – presents a viable solution to the dilemma.

Dr Moriarty said: “This is an unlikely task for the 2024 human mission but it’s certainly something that lunar scientists are exploring.

“For instance, the Moon Diver mission concept is looking into robotic exploration for lunar lava tubes – no tunnelling required.”

The space expert went on to say settling the Moon will require NASA to work with the Moon rather than against it.

Dr Moriarty said: “I don’t think we’re going to be able to change anything about the surface of the Moon much.

“Instead, I think it makes sense to work within some of the structures and resources that are already there.

“For instance, it could be useful to establish a base near a permanently-shadowed polar region in order to take advantage of surface waters that’s there.

The Moon Diver mission concept is looking into robotic exploration for lunar lava tubes

Dr Daniel Moriarty, NASA

“Alternatively, it could be interesting to set up shop within a pre-existing lava tube, which could provide astronauts with some shielding from temperature variations and incoming solar radiations. There are lots of cool possibilities.”

And NASA’s LaNetra Tate, a Space Tech Program executive who took part in the online Q&A, said astronauts will examine ways in which the Moon’s scarce resources can sustain manned missions.

Ms Tate said: “We are most definitely looking to mature technologies and capabilities that will support In-Situ Resource Utilisation on the surface of the Moon.

“We will initially focus on converting polar ice to water and oxygen extraction from lunar soil as initial demonstration, testing them here on Earth and then on the Moon.

“Building a permanent base with regolith for radiation shielding is an interesting concept that has been discussed within the In-Situ Resource Utilisation community.”

On Monday, May 13, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine revealed the name of NASA’s new lunar mission – Artemis.

Named after the Greek goddess of the hunt, NASA’s Artemis will see the first woman astronaut set foot on the Moon.

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