Space exploration is taking an interesting turn with the arrival of the Moon as an important focus for future missions. But how can we live in such a bad environment? China seems to have an idea: lava tubes.
The challenges of the lunar environment
One of the main dangers of the Moon is radiation. Unlike the Earth, the Moon does not have an atmosphere to provide any kind of protection from cosmic and solar radiation.
The Moon is a world of excessive heat. Temperatures can reach up to 127 degrees Celsius during the day and drop to -173 degrees Celsius at night.
Even lower, the risk of meteorite impacts is another thing to consider. The lack of atmosphere means that even small meteorites can cause significant damage.
Lava tubes: Natural refuges on the Moon
she Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter identified several ‘portholes’, which are natural openings in lava tubes. These tubes provide a natural shelter from the dangers of the lunar environment.
Lava tubes are underground structures formed by flows of solidified lava. They offer an environment with a more stable temperature and protection against radiation and meteorite impacts.
China and its interest in lava tubes
China has shown particular interest in these lava tubes, conducting research on terrestrial lava tubes to better understand how they can be used on the Moon. In fact, it has developed a robotic system to inspect these pipes. The system will include a main probe and auxiliary vehicles with scientific instruments.
Technological and scientific applications
Loss robots It is designed to adapt to difficult terrain and carry a scientific payload to study lunar dust, radiation and the presence of water ice in the tubes.
In the long term, China plans to build an underground research base under one of the lava tubes, which will include residential and research facilities.
Geopolitical and strategic implications
Lunar exploration is not only a matter of science, but also of geopolitics. China is emerging as a space power and its interest in the Moon could have long-term strategic implications.