ASI W9800003r1.0

Moon Miners' Manifesto

#100 November 1996

Section the Artemis Data Book

Remote Mapping of Lunar Lavatubes

REMOTE MAPING OF LUNAR LAVATUBES: Teleo-Spelunking on the Moon

[Reprint of MMM #44, April '91, page 6]


Writing in Starseed, the newsletter of Oregon L5 Society, Oregon Moonbase researcher Thomas L. Billings discusses ways to search out lunar lava-tubes. Tube openings are hard to spot by camera unless you are right on top of them [but see note below]. While intelligent lunar base siting will require better orbital mapping than provided for the Apollo landings, the best method may be to look "through" the rock. The severe dryness of the lunar surface should make this possible for orbiting radar. (Airborne radar has been used successfully to find lava tubes on the big island of Hawaii.)

To provide deep radar imaging, the antenna diameter must be four times the radar wavelength being used. To penetrate deeply enough we'd need a wavelength of 5-20 meters, meaning an antenna 20-80 meters across! That's a lot of mass to put into orbit along with the ancillary equipment.

Billings suggests a way out. Readings from a number of smaller antennas in an interferometer array can substitute, synthesizing an image. It will be tricky to do this in orbit, and an intercontinental interferometer is an option. Using a 7-meter wavelength, you'd have a 250 meter resolution and a penetration of 70 meters, good enough to detect a convincing sample, given that many tubes are likely to be larger than this.

However, a considerable amount of power will be needed if the signal returning to Earth is to be detectable. Computer algorithms needed to sift signal from noise are getting better. Nor need the search extend beyond a few months, so maybe the expense wouldn't be out of line with the rewards. TB

[Ed.: 1) Would it be practical to intercept the signal in lunar orbit where it would be stronger? 2) Would Earth-based searches be limited to central nearside? 3) We could use the same instrumentation package to search for tubes on Mars, Mercury, Venus, Io, and Vesta; worlds with shield volcanoes and lava sheets.]

Using Orbiting Infrared Cameras
to Find Cooborating Evidence.

According to Bryce Walden and Cheryl Lynn York of Oregon Moonbase, orbiting side-looking infrared detectors may on occasion peer into the entrance of a fortuitously oriented lavatube, detecting its characteristic sub-surface temperature, clearly distinct from ambient surface readings, in sunshine or out. Illustration on previous page. MMM

Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto

Home Tour Join! Contents Team News Catalog Search Comm
Moon Miners' Manifesto is published 10 times a year by the Lunar Reclamation Society for Artemis Society International, several chapters of the National Space Society, and individual subscribers world-wide.
Copyright © 2001 Artemis Society International, for the contributors. All rights reserved. Updated Sun, Jan 4, 1998.
Maintained by Jeremy Kraemer . Maintained with WebSite Director.