Indian space scientists who analyzed data from the Chandrayaan-1 Moon mission say they have found a buried tubular structure near the lunar equator that could potentially serve as a shelter for future human settlement.

A.S. Arya and his colleagues at the Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad, India, said the underground structure they detected is an uncollapsed portion of a near-horizontal cylindrical lava tube estimated to be about 1.7 kilometers long and 120 meters wide.

The scientists detected this lava tube by analyzing stereoscopic images taken by Chandrayaan-1’s high-resolution Terrain Mapping Camera before the mission ended in August 2009.

Such a lava tube could be a potential site for sheltering future human explorers, providing “a safe environment from hazardous radiations, micro-meteoritic impacts, extreme temperatures and dust storms,” the scientists wrote in a report published by the Indian Academy of Sciences.



Images from Chandrayaan-1 Depict Large Lunar Cave