Underground lava tubes would be the best place to set up a base on the moon, or look for life on Mars. The problem is that they are very narrow, and the rovers need training to get around. As it is complicated to organize test phases on the Moon , or on Mars, NASA has retreated into the California desert , where many caves and galleries serve as a perfect training ground.
scientists exploit the similarities between these planets.
During the Astrobiology Science Conference, which is taking place this week, scientists shared these experiences as part of the BRAILLE project (Biologic and Resource Analog Investigations in Low Light Environments).
These tests were conducted at the Lava Beds National Monument site, which is home to North America’s largest network of underground lava tubes.
The advantage of these lava tunnels is that they provide effective protection against the intense radiation that hits the lunar surface, and Mars. They could therefore be very useful for the first settlers. Moreover, on Earth these tubes are full of microbes, scientists hope that it is the same case on Mars, or on the Moon.