Moon Tunnels

Mia Noel, Writer

Before the moonwalk of 1972, a NASA researcher argued that there were tunnels underneath the moon’s surface.  The researcher believed that lava, from volcanoes, could have made these extensive tunnels, just as volcanoes formed the Kaumana lava tubes in Hawaii. Lava tubes are huge tunnels carved out of rock by flowing lava. Scientists believed that the tunnels might preserve evidence concerning the history and origin of our moon. Also, if the tunnels are proven to be stable enough, then they could provide shelter for bases. Ronald Greeley, a NASA researcher, actually hypothesized, in 1971, that one of the great channels in the moon’s Marius Hills region might be a collapsed tunnel. Although, there was no mission that had photographed any proof of any moon tunnel entrances, and some scientists doubted that these tunnels even existed.

The existence of these tunnels haden’t been confirmed until now. 50 years after Greenley’s hypothesis was published, the Japanese said they’d found proof that these moon tunnels existed. Japan’s lunar orbiter that found this proof is called Kaguya, but Americans call it SELENE. In 2009, Kaguya had drifted 60 miles above the Marius Hill region and took pictures of a large, deep hole. New research, that was published in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that several pits near the Marcius Hill region on the moon are large open lava tubes. Researchers say that the moon tunnels have the potential to offer a “pristine environment to conduct scientific examination of the moon’s composition and potentially serve as secure shelters for humans and instruments”. A study, that was done on the tunnels under the moon’s surface, has said that the tunnels could be larger and more stable than scientists had previously believed. “The floor of the hole extended at least several meters eastward and westward under a ceiling of two other holes,” the researchers wrote. Although the researchers could not obtain any more information about these tunnels, such as how long the tunnels stretch. The researchers who have been modeling the tunnels believe that they could be about 3 miles wide, this would provide enough room to build the bases that the scientists want. The GRAIL, or Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, measured tiny fluctuations in the moon’s gravity to be able to map out possible mountains and underground tunnels. “When the GRAIL flew over the Marius Hills region”, the researchers wrote that, “it detected something long and hollow beneath the surface- extending more than 30 miles from the hole Kaguya found”.  According to Japan’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, the tunnel was approximately 31 miles long, may be buried 300 feet below the moon’s surface, and may contain ice or water.

NASA has said that they may be able to go back to the moon in 5 to 7 years with a cost of 10 billion dollars. Spaceflight experts argued that the costs of building lunar bases could be much lower than the scientists expected because there is possibility of substantial commercial value in the tunnels. The bases that would be built in these tunnels could also serve as a commercial mining base to allow colonists to exploit the moon’s natural resources. Evidence has pointed to the belief that there could be a rich source of water or ice, rare metals, and a rare isotope of helium under the moon’s surface.