World space agencies aim to have colonies on Mars and the Moon by 2030. However, there is still a long list of threats that hamper the settlement process. It is difficult to live in a world where there is a risk to get a meteorite on the head and die from cosmic radiation.
Therefore, researchers have proposed a new solution to the problem. Martian and lunar colonists could arrange their settlements in giant lava tubes. Scientists conducted a systematic comparison of the lava tubes of the Earth, Mars and the Moon, creating digital elevation models in high resolution. Data obtained from orbiters, such as MRO and LIDAR. The analysis revealed several promising lava tube candidates in the Martian regions of the Adriatic Mountain, Arsia and Olympus, as well as in the lunar region of Marius.
Moreover, these lava tubes will not only become potential colonies for earthlings, but will also be a place where people will be able to detect newcomers for the first time. After all, lava tubes serve as an excellent protection against cosmic threats and earthly eyes.
ESA Astronauts have already begun to learn to adapt to life in lava tubes on Earth
The author of the study, Riccardo Pozzobon, says:
“These results are important for habitat search, further exploration of the Moon by people and search for life on Mars. Lava tubes are an environment protected from cosmic radiation and micrometeorite flux. In addition, they are large enough to form large-scale human settlements ”.
The researchers note that lava tubes on other space objects will be larger than on Earth, due to the influence of another level of gravitational force. If on our planet a lava tube can cover up to 30 m in width, then on Mars some extend to 250 m. And on the Moon you can find tunnels of lava tubes, the length of which covers 100 km, and width - 1.6 km.
A giant lava tube on the surface of the moon
Lava tubes form when the edges of a lava from a volcanic eruption cool and create a ridge around the lava flow. When the lava stops flowing, the ridge cools down, creates a crust, and a tunnel remains when it is drained. These tubes become even larger when the lava flows into the layers of rocks and cavities that have undergone changes as a result of previous eruptions. On Earth, large-scale lava tubes were found in Hawaii, Iceland, Australia, Sicily and the Galapagos Islands.
Now scientists rely on orbiters, which display the gravity of various planets. On this basis, form the map, where they note the potential grooves and holes. But the development of radar sensing systems will greatly simplify the process. Such devices, emitting low-frequency electromagnetic waves, can be used to determine the physical composition, size and shape of lava tubes. Agree, the creation of a city inside the lava tube seems like a fantastic activity. But scientists are already developing methods for transporting people and equipment.