Mars-Moon Lava Tube habitation simulation in Iceland

Mike Dunn talked about the use of lava tubes for the Moon and Mars habitats. Mike has worked on The Mars Lava Tube Pressurization Project’s (MLTPP).

The lunar soil is 40% oxygen. Lunar cement could be made to block off and enclose a lava tube. This would make it hundreds to thousands of times easier to make safe and large habitats on the moon.

Lava tubes could be enclosed and pressurized to support facilities such as greenhouses and maintenance enclosures. Astronauts could also use inflatable tents inside of lava tubes and caves while being protected from temperatures, radiation and meteorites.

They are working to simulate Moon and Mars lava tube habitats in a lava tube in Iceland.

The advantage of a lunar base in a lava tube is you can use lightweight construction materials. No radiation shielding is needed. Habitats could even be inflatable like Bigalow Aerospace stations.

The temperatures stay around -20 Celsius which is also better. Extremes at the lunar surface range from -180 deg C to +100 deg C in its diurnal cycle.

There has been a NASA mission analysis for exploring lava tubes on the moon.

The Marius Hill Skylight and Tranquillitatis Pit are both near Titanium, iron, water and helium 3.

Reconnaissance phase technologies may include EVA suited rappelling techniques and astronaut jetpacks. Possibly a quadruped robotic “pack mule”, Multi-Utility Legged Explorer (MULE) would carry equipment for astronauts.

Entire lava tubes could have the opening sealed to enable the entire tube to be pressurized.

There are studies to look at how much the lunar soil would leak gas. If there is any leakage into or via the lunar dirt, there will be tests of the best ways to seal the walls. Tests by spraying on epoxy will be done. Early tests suggest about 22% porosity. Some sealing of the walls would seem to be needed.

Lava tubes or natural cave lets you build far simpler facilities that would be protected from radiation and meteorites.

Lava tubes exist on Earth, but their lunar counterparts are much larger. For a lava tube to be detectable by gravity data, it would need to extend several kilometers in length and at least one kilometer in height and width – which means the lava tube near the Marius Hills is spacious enough to house one of the United States’ largest cities, if the gravity results are correct.

From the 21st Annual International Mars Society Convention, held at the Pasadena Convention Center in Southern California from Aug 23-26, 2018.