Huge cave found on moon, could house astronauts: Japan scientists

Aastronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the moon near the leg of the lunar module Eagle during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Japan’s space agency have discovered a huge moon cave that could one day house a base that would shelter astronauts from dangerous radiation and wild temperature swings. (NASA via AP)
Updated 19 October 2017
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Huge cave found on moon, could house astronauts: Japan scientists

TOKYO: Scientists at Japan’s space agency have discovered a huge moon cave that could one day house a base that would shelter astronauts from dangerous radiation and wild temperature swings, officials said Thursday.
Data taken from Japan’s SELENE lunar orbiter has confirmed the existence of the 50-kilometer long and 100-meter wide cavern that is believed to be lava tube created by volcanic activity about 3.5 billion years ago.
The major finding was published this week in US science magazine Geophysical Research Letters.
“We’ve known about these locations that were thought to be lava tubes ... but their existence has not been confirmed until now,” Junichi Haruyama, a researcher at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, said on Thursday.
The underground tunnel, located under an area called the Marius Hills, would help protect astronauts from huge swings in temperature and damaging radiation that they would be exposed to on the moon’s surface, he added.
“We haven’t actually seen the inside of the cave itself so there are high hopes that exploring it will offer more details,” Haruyama said.
The announcement comes after Japan in June revealed ambitious plans to put an astronaut on the Moon around 2030.
That was the first time the agency had said it aimed to send an astronaut beyond the International Space Station.
The idea is to first join a NASA-led mission in 2025 to build a space station in the moon’s orbit, as part of a longer-term effort by NASA to reach Mars.
The US also announced the country is committed to send astronauts to the moon.
“We will return American astronauts to the moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundations we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond,” US Vice President Mike Pence said this month.
China and India are also developing their space programs.
In November, China’s Shenzhou-11 spacecraft returned to Earth, bringing home two astronauts from the rising power’s longest-ever orbital mission.
Beijing has also unveiled illustrations of a Mars probe and rover it aims to send to the Red Planet at the end of the decade.
NASA and other global space agencies are working hard on sending astronauts to Mars by the 2030s.


Tunisia hosts geosciences conference

On the sidelines of the conference, an exhibition, workshops, specialized training courses and field trips are being carried out. (Shutterstock)
Updated 22 min 15 sec ago
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Tunisia hosts geosciences conference

  • On the sidelines of the conference, an exhibition, workshops, specialized training courses and field trips are being carried out

JEDDAH: Tunisia is hosting the first conference of the Arabian Journal of Geosciences (AJGS), which will run until Thursday.
The conference, marking the journal’s 10th anniversary, includes more than 20 prominent speakers, 50 discussion panels, more than 700 international researchers, academics and diplomats, including the Saudi ambassador to Tunisia.
Abdullah Al-Amri, head of the Saudi Society for Geosciences and editor-in-chief of the AJGS, briefed attendees on the journal’s history and achievements.
He also underlined the support it receives from King Saud University and King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).
Tunisian government representative Khalil Amiri discussed global climate change, its implications on geological changes, and the importance of conducting further research in this area.
He called for educational programs and campaigns to raise awareness about the seriousness of climate change.
On the sidelines of the conference, an exhibition, workshops, specialized training courses and field trips are being carried out.