TOKYO, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- A deep lava tube discovered on the moon could shield human colonists from harsh temperatures and meteorites, Japanese scientists said.
The tube, in the Marius Hills on the moon's near side, is believed to be 213-feet wide and more than 260-feet deep, said Junichi Haruyama, a researcher with the Japanese space agency JAXA. The tube was discovered through images taken by the Japanese moon orbiter SELENE.
"Lunar lava tubes are a potentially important location for a future lunar base, whether for local exploration and development, or as an outpost to serve exploration beyond the Moon," Haruyama and his team wrote in a recent issue of the American Geophysical Union.
The moon contains other, already discovered tubes, but this one does not appear prone to collapse and it is insulated with a sheet of lava that protects the hole from extreme temperatures and meteorite strikes, CNN reported Saturday.