More Studies of the Moon – This Time Volcanoes

Image (Credit): The beautiful Gruithuisen Domes on the surface of the Moon. (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

Earlier this month, NASA announced plans to to study volcanoes on the Moon as part of the Artemis Program. The mission, called the Lunar Vulkan Imaging and Spectroscopy Explorer (Lunar-VISE) investigation, will involve a stationary lander and mobile rover.

The mission will entail a 10-day survey of the summit of one of the Gruithuisen Domes to learn more about how these domes were formed without water or plate tectonics and how they evolved over time. The results will feed into future planning regarding robotic and human missions to the lunar surface.

Speaking of volcanoes on the Moon, you may have already read about the potential benefits of placing humans below the lunar surface in lava tubes. Such benefits include avoiding extreme temperature swings, radiation, and meteorite impacts. This NASA video, “Lava Tubes: Science Beneath the Surface of the Moon,” provides more background on NASA’s efforts to learn more about the Moon’s surface and the role of lava tubes.

This lava tube idea is also being pursued for a Martian habitat as well. I am not sure if people want to travel to a distant world only to hide underground, but given the dangers of surface habitation it seems this might be our best chance for long-term survival. Yes, a new race of extraterrestrial groundhogs.