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As NASA makes a big push to land humans on the moon's surface by 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) wants to learn more about the lunar caves that lie beneath.
ESA has released a call for proposals asking for creative ways to design a robotic mission that would explore these caves, which could be related to old underground lava tubes that dried up over the eons and collapsed. The campaign is available on ESA's Open Space Innovation Platform and closes Oct. 31.
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"Exploring and mapping these tubes could provide new information about the moon's geology, but they could also be an interesting option as long-term shelter for future human visitors to the moon," Franceso Sauro, director of ESA's Pangaea planetary geology astronaut training, said in a statement. "They would shield astronauts from cosmic radiation and micrometeorites and possibly provide access to icy water and other resources trapped underground."
Related: Lunar Lava Tubes Might Make Underground Moon Cities Possible
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The missions have several scientific objectives associated with them, ESA explained. Future explorers would not only need to access, navigate and map the caves, but may use other resources....
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