October 15, 2010 #086 - Lava Tubes on the moon

It is strange how science fiction writers develop story lines which predict, at least to a degree, scientific discoveries years later. When I was a young lad I was an avid reader of this genre. One of my favorite stories was an early book written by Donald A. Wollheim, titled - "One Against the Moon". This was the story of a boy stowing away on the first unmanned rocket to Luna. The craft crashes, he survives in a stolen spacesuit, and finds a habitat in the caves below the surface. This subterranean world was populated by an entire ecosystem of lunar flora and fauna.

Of course, this ecosystem does not exist. But, the earth's robotic lunar exploration satellites have recently discovered that lava tubes do exist below the lunar regolith! There is even some talk, in scientific circles, about building viable bases in these tubes in the future. "Wow!", the boy in me says. Maybe, Robert A. Heinlein's - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" might come true!

The Japanese Lunar Space Craft Selene/Kaguya discovered this opening.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

One final thought. Recently water has been discovered on Luna! For years I have read that not one drop could be found there. The master of scientific prediction, Arthur C. Clarke, wrote a line in "The Sentinel", in 1951, which still gives a thrill to my little boys heart.

"... some thousand million years before. When life was beginning on Earth, it was already dying here. The waters were retreating down the flanks of those stupendous cliff s, retreating into the empty heart of the Moon. Over the land which we were crossing, the tideless ocean had once been half a mile deep, and now the only trace of moisture was the hoarfrost one could sometimes find in caves which the searing sunlight never penetrated."

Is it such a leap to imagination that some future lunar probe or even a team of sub lunarian explorers will discover a living patch of mat like bacteria deep below the surface in some dark lunar passageway.

Clear Sky - Rich

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