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'Lava tube skylights' on the moon call to caving astronauts - CNET

These may be lava tube skylights. NASA LRO LROC

Future astronauts on the moon might need to hone their spelunking skills before they visit.

A new study from the SETI Institute and the Mars Institute looks at a series of pits seen by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). These pits might actually be lava tube skylights, which are entrances to underground tunnels that were once filled with lava. Those tunnels could be key to accessing usable water on the moon.

The area of interest is the large Philolaus Crater near the moon's north pole. Planetary scientist Pascal Lee says the quality of the LRO images doesn't allow scientists to determine the pits are lava tube skylights with 100 percent certainty, but they are "good candidates considering simultaneously their size, shape, lighting conditions and geologic setting."

Researchers have already identified over 200 pits across the moon's surface that might be skylights, but the new study is the first to identify candidates...(continued)

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