Is This A 'Skylight' Leading To A Lunar Cave?

A deep hole has been found in the Moon's surface; Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency scientists believe it may be an opening into a vast underground tunnel.

The moon seems to possess long, winding tunnels called lava tubes that are similar to structures seen on Earth. They are created when the top of a stream of molten rock solidifies and the lava inside drains away, leaving a hollow tube of rock.

Their existence on the moon is hinted at based on observations of sinuous rilles long, winding depressions carved into the lunar surface by the flow of lava. Some sections of the rilles have collapsed, suggesting that hollow lava tubes hide beneath at least some of the rilles.

(Via Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency )

The team found the first candidate skylight in a volcanic area on the moon's near side called Marius Hills. "This is the first time that anybody's actually identified a skylight in a possible lava tube" on the moon, van der Bogert, who helped analyse the feature, told New Scientist.

The hole measures 65 metres across, and based on images taken at a variety of sun angles, the the hole is thought to extend down at least 80 metres. It sits in the middle of a rille, suggesting the hole leads into a lava tube as wide as 370 metres across.

Robert Heinlein thought that lunar caves would have multiple purposes; you could store air in them and use them for recreation. One of the largest was Bats' Cave from his 1957 novel The Menace From Earth which got its name from the bat wings called "Storer-Gulls wings" that you could actually flap your arms and fly with:

Most of the stuff written about Bats' Cave gives a wrong impression. It's the air storage tank for the city, just like all the colonies have - the place where the scavenger pumps, deep down, deliver the air until it's needed. We just happen to be lucky enough to have one big enough to fly in. But it never was built, or anything like that; it's just a big volcanic bubble, two miles across, and if it had broken through, way back when, it would have been a crater.

John Varley wrote about excavated caves called lunar disneylands in his 1976 novel called The Phantom of Kansas.

"The Kansas disneyland was one of the newer ones, and one of the largest. It is a hollowed-out cylinder twenty kilometers beneath Clavius. It measures two hundred and fifty kilometers in diameter and is five kilometers high. The curvature of the floor is consistent with Old Earth so the horizon is terrifyingly far away. Only the gravity is Lunar."

From New Scientist.

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