NASA considers sending a cave-diving robot to the moon

Sea of Tranquility
Image credit: NASA

NASA is considering an unmanned mission to explore deep below the surface of the moon, using a robot that would lower itself hundreds of feet into a lunar cave.

As Smithsonian Magazine reports, Moon Diver will rappel 130 feet into the Sea of Tranquility, before dropping another 200 feet into a dark cavern.

As it descends, instruments will unfold from the robot's wheel wells to study the exposed layers of rock deep beneath the lunar surface, giving scientists a fresh insight into the moon's history.

Space spelunking

Lunar caves could also provide a handy place to store delicate equipment, or even shelter for manned missions.

If approved, Moon Diver could launch as early as the mid-2020s. “There is a nice poetry to this mission concept,” said Laura Kerber, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“Apollo 11 landed along the edge of the Sea of Tranquillity. Fifty years later, we are going to dive down right into the middle of it.”

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