Friday, January 1, 2010

Moon Holes

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/091231-moon-hole-lava-tube.html

I can't help but wonder why we've not sent a satellite with ground penetrating radar to the Moon in an effort to see if there are tunnels under the surface that were created by lava tubes, or whatever else.

The trip is short, the mission simple, and the data would be collected quickly. I haven't found a mission like this for the Moon in the history, unless I simply missed something. I think it would be a good idea to see what nature can provide us, because that would save a LOT of digging and manufacturing time.

3 comments:

cdorion said...

It's probably because we've only recently been seriously thinking about placing an outpost on the moon.

It would be a cool study though- I would love to see the effects of lunar gravity on the formation of lava tubes. I don't know much about lunar basalts, but if the magma which generated it had a low viscosity, coupled with the fact that there's no atmosphere to rapidly diffuse the heat from the lava, lunar tubes could have the potential to be massive!

FlashB2G said...

Douglas, interesting site. I look forward to reading more on it.

I do have a question though, about cost benefit of sending a radar sat to the moon to survey. Granted, I've been out of the field for more than a decade being in the military currently, but couldn't we just as easily use earth based radar to look for more evidence of these lava tubes on the moon? I seem to recall many "moons" ago we did earth based surveys of Venus didn't we? Granted that was surface analysis, but the Moon is a bit closer would it be possible/plausible to do?

Larry

Douglas Mallette said...

cdorion - Thus why I think we should do the ground penetrating radar thing. :) Let's see how "ant hill" like the moon really is. lol.

FlashB2G - Thank you sir.

As for your comment, surface analysis can be done over distance, but GPR is definitely a proximity thing. The closer you are to what you're look at, the deeper you can dive with the radar using the same power consumption. Transmitting over large distances automatically incurs power loss, so you can't penetrate as deep and can't see as much. You'd want the satellite as close as possible for the survey. Being on the surface itself it ideal, but impractical if you want to do a full survey in a reasonable time.

Plus since we only see one side of the Moon, we'd miss analysis on the entire other half if we did it from Earth. Also, you'd have to coordinate with other places around the world to pick up where you leave off once the daytime comes and the Moon is no longer in your view.

A lunar orbiting platform for this is much more robust, would give better data, and be able to run 24/7/365 to do the analysis.