Both the Moon and Mars have colossal lava tubes that would fit the largest buildings built here on Earth. And the openings on the surface are the size of football fields.
Forming caves under the ground, the lava tubes are protected from the harsh solar radiation and could be great places to create bases for humans, say scientists.
What is Lava Tubes?
Lava tubes are caves that lie underground, like giant tunnels, generated by streams of molten rock from explosive volcanoes. On Earth we were able to discover them when part of their roofs collapsed leaving huge holes in the surface.
We were able to observe visions very similar to these giant “skylights” on the Moon and Mars and scientists published a survey in the Earth-Science Reviews magazine stating that we must create missions to explore these formations precisely because they can be the ideal place to house humans, since the surface is so unforgivable because of solar radiation and other risks.
“The largest lava tubes on Earth are at most 40 meters wide and high. So much like a very large highway tunnel, ”said Riccardo Pozzobon, the co-author of the research and a geoscientist at the University of Padova in Italy.
The Extraterrestrial Lava Tubes
On Mars the lava tubes reach 400m in diameter and on the moon they can be 700 times the size of the tubes found on Earth, reaching up to 900m in diameter. A tube of lunar lava could house an entire city.
These colossal dimensions of the lunar and Martian lava tubes can be caused both by the smaller gravities of these stars and by the effect of a distinct volcanic activity.
How was the size of the lava tubes estimated on the Moon and Mars?
To determine the size of these extraterrestrial tubes, scientists compared three-dimensional laser scans of collapsed tubes here on Earth with images from probes on both Mars and the Moon. Using the ratio of the size of collapsed tubes on Earth compared to those of Mars and the Moon it was possible to estimate the size of the tubes in the celestial bodies.
Lava tubes would not only protect human settlements against solar radiation, but also against meteorites that reach the surface more often, as they do not burn so well in the thin atmosphere of Mars or in the nonexistent atmosphere of the Moon, according to the scientists. It is also possible that they contain water and other chemical compounds with which it is possible to produce fuels.
Can we breathe inside Lava Tube?
Although science fiction imagines that underground extraterrestrial caves could be pressurized to create a breathable atmosphere, this is unlikely since the openings to the surface can be the size of a football field. Another risk would be atmospheric leaks through cracks in the rock.
The moon’s lava tubes appear to be more structurally firm, according to the study, which makes them great options for exploration. But more detailed mapping is needed before we send any autonomous missions into them.
Anyway, although it seems hostile to live on Earth recently, we still cannot hope to move to lava tubes on the Moon or Mars.