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Massive Lava Tubes on Mars, Moon Could Be Planetary Bases

Aug. 16, 2020 (EIRNS)—Although the idea of using ancient lava tubes on the Moon and Mars as bases for human colonies is not new, a research team has recently determined that the tubes are likely to be 100 to 1,000 times the size of those on Earth, reaching up to 100 feet wide and extending 25 miles long.

The study, involving the Universities of Bologna and Padua in Italy, and led by Francesco Sauro and Riccardo Pozzobon, used information collected from studies done on Earth to extrapolate data regarding the tubes on Mars and the Moon.

As reported in by the University of Bologna’s unibo.it, the researchers explained, “We can find lava tubes on planet Earth, but also on the subsurface of the Moon and Mars according to the high-resolution pictures of lava tubes’ skylights taken by interplanetary probes. Evidence of lava tubes was often inferred by observing linear cavities and sinuous collapse chains where the galleries cracked,” explains Francesco Sauro. “These collapse chains represent ideal gateways or windows for subsurface exploration. The morphological surface expression of lava tubes on Mars and the Moon is similar to their terrestrial counterpart. Speleologists thoroughly studied lava tubes on Earth in Hawaii, Canary Islands, Australia and Iceland.”

“We measured the size and gathered the morphology of lunar and Martian collapse chains (collapsed lava tubes), using digital terrain models (DTMs), which we obtained through satellite stereoscopic images and laser altimetry taken by interplanetary probes,” recalls Riccardo Pozzobon.

“We then compared these data to topographic studies about similar collapse chains on the Earth’s surface and to laser scans of the inside of lava tubes in Lanzarote and the Galapagos. These data allowed to establish a restriction to the relationship between collapse chains and subsurface cavities that are still intact.”

Such lava tubes are of vital importance for colonization, because not only do the temperatures remain relatively stable between day and nighttime, but the tubes provide a stable shield from cosmic and solar radiation, as well as micro-meteors. It is thought that the lower gravity on the Moon and Mars contributes to the tubes being so much larger than those seen on Earth.

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