Cartosat-2A satellite panchromatic image of nearside of the Moon showing the location of the study area as a rectangular box (red) in Oceanus Procellarum on the western nearside. Also shown are the major mare basins (Fr, Mare Frigoris; Im, Mare Imbrium; Ir, Sinus Iridum (a lunar bay); Hu, Mare Humorum; Nu, Mare Nubium; Nc,
Mare Nectaris; Fe, Mare Fecunditatis; Cs, Mare Crisium; Se, Mare Serenitatis; Va, Mare Vaporum; Tr, Mare Tranquillitatis and Gr, Grimaldi basin) and the prominent craters (Plato, Aristarchus, Copernicus, Kepler, Tycho).
The high spatial resolution of the Terrain Mapping Camera and the close 100 km orbit helped scientists build Digital Elevation Models (DEM) to help study the lunar terrain in great detail. This was used to study potential human habitability sites on the Moon. Based on previous studies, they concentrated their efforts on riles and lava tubes on the lunar surface. Study on the Oceanus Procellurum region on the Moon showed that lava tubes were good places for possible human habitability. They found that there was no effect of cosmic rays deeper than 6 meters, no effect of solar particles deeper than 1 meter, no radiation effects and no significant temperature difference was observed with the temperature remaining nearly constant at -20 degrees Celsius. It is also opined that the presence of partial lava tube structure reduces requirement of construction. Scientists also think that the cool temperatures here could make these a candidate for water and ice traps on the lunar surface. Lava tubes also provide a dust free environment.
Chandrayaan-1, the maiden Indian lunar spacecraft, carried 11 different scientific payloads on-board. The Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) having 5 meter spatial resolution and three-dimensional viewing capability had better sensor parameters than other similar cameras flown to the Moon before this mission. TMC captured the lunar surface features with unprecedented clarity. A buried, uncollapsed and near horizontal lava tube was detected in TMC stereo images of the Oceanus Procellarum area on the Moon. A Digital Elevation Model was generated to view the feature in threedimensional perspective. A couple of rilles have been found to be connected sub-surfacially by an undamaged lava tube, indicating that the roof of this section of the tube has remained intact since its formation. The lava tube has been analysed thoroughly in terms of morphometry, topography, surface composition and surface ages of the surrounding regions. Such a lava tube could be a potential site for future human habitability on the Moon for future human missions and scientific explorations, providing a safe environment from hazardous radiations, micro-meteoritic impacts, extreme temperatures and dust storms.
This lava tube, in all probability, as in the case of lava tubes on Earth, is a strong candidate which conceals a hollow cave. Orthoimage and DEM have been used to compute the dimensions of the above tube/rilles. Total length of the entire rille, including the intermittent uncollapsed lava tube, along its central portion, is approximately 7.36 km and altitude varies from –1358 to –1200 m from NE to SW. A topographic profile along this entire rille/uncollapsed tube was also analysed in detail. The diameter of the assumed cylindrical tube as computed from DEM is 120 m. The approximate surface area of the entire rille is computed to be about 2.77 km2 and volume is 0.08 km3. The length of the uncollapsed portion is found to be 1.72 km; the approximate surface area and the volume are computed to be 0.65 km2 and 0.02 km3 respectively. The portion above this uncollapsed tube, exposed on the lunar surface is approximately 360 m wide and 1.7 km long.
The lunar material of the tube is iron rich
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