As the Moon becomes the next hot spot for space travel, many countries are looking for areas to set up lunar bases. While the Shackleton Crater, a large crater on the Moon’s south pole, is a key location for many of these missions, several space architects within the Chinese space program are designing an underground base to live in a lunar lava tube.
Because these tubes naturally shelter inhabitants from extreme temperatures and solar radiation, China may be giving themselves a particular advantage with this new design for sustaining long-term visits to the Moon.
The Shackleton Crater has been studied from orbit by NASA’s Clementine, as well as the Lunar Prospector, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Lunar Orbiter 4 probes. The crater in question is interesting for many reasons, the first being the presence of ice. NASA found from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that the crater’s surface may be made up of 22% ice, which could help sustain life and provide key details to the Moon’s history.
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