China unveils master plans to build an underground lunar base inside ancient lava caves | science | News

Researchers believe that hollow underground lava channels will provide astronauts with a natural shield against space radiation and the extreme temperatures prevailing on the Moon. This will give a boost to Beijing’s plans to allow astronauts to stay on the moon for extended periods by 2035. Underground tunnels, also known as lava tubes, were created by molten rock during ancient volcanic eruptions.

As the outer portion of the lunar lava cools and hardens, the rest falls off, leaving behind a hollow tube.

These tunnels can be several kilometers long and tens of meters wide, and are large enough to provide a natural shelter against space radiation and temperature extremes on the moon’s surface.

Space agencies have discovered these tunnels throughout the satellite.

According to Pan Winty, associate professor at the Institute of Architectural Design and Research of the Harbin Institute of Technology, these tubes provide alternative sites for building lunar bases outside the moon’s south pole, which is thought to contain an abundance of ancient water ice.

Speaking to the National Space Science Association last month, Mr. Ban unveiled plans for a lunar base last month, saying, “The moon’s south pole could get really crowded, and extracting water ice is still a technical challenge, so we wanted to explore other possibilities.”

Mr. Ban added that the base, which he called “the laurel tree”, was still in the early design phase.

The base consists of a pyramid-shaped structure above the ground, which can serve as an entry/exit point to the tunnel.

Meanwhile, its floor components will include the basic cabin, work cabin and several living quarters.

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The designs show that the vertical base cabin will act as a control center for the base, and it will be equipped with advanced hardware that connects the “entrance” to the working and living areas.

The working and living cabins will be made of pressurized interiors topped with inflatable arches, according to the South China Morning Post.

Pan noted that these would be quick and easy to deploy, given the lack of air or wind on the Moon.

The researchers will make lunar concrete using rocks on the moon, along with additives from the Earth, and then use the concrete to fill the vaults, forming permanent structures.

China has ramped up its space program over the past decade — with a particular focus on the moon.

China’s lunar exploration program features the first – and so far – successful landing of a rover on the far side of the Moon.

China is planning robotic missions to the moon’s south pole – an area believed to contain water deposits that can be harvested to produce rocket fuel – in the coming years.

By the end of the decade, the China National Space Administration expects to be able to launch rockets powerful enough to send astronauts to the lunar surface.