Scientists are developing a miniature scanning device to identify ice deposits and hollow lava tubes on the Moon for possible human settlement.
MAPrad is a prototype mini radar for scanning the moon. It is 10 times smaller than the device that Australian startup CD3D PTY Limited is creating. However, even the prototype works better than all existing soil-penetrating radar systems, the authors of the development note. According to the idea, it will be useful on the moon for future explorers. The scanning device will help locate ice deposits and lava tubes.
Recall that lava tubes are cavities in lava flows, elongated in the form of corridors. Such channels are obtained with uneven cooling of lava flowing from the slopes of the volcano. The surface layers of lava, due to contact with air, which is much colder than the lava itself, cool faster and become monolithic, forming a hard crust. In them, future astronauts can create a habitat protected from radiation.
CD3D PTY Limited has received a grant from the Australian Space Agency’s Moon-Mars Initiative to further develop the prototype with RMIT, including testing it by mapping one of the largest lava tube systems on Earth in the Undara Volcanic National Park.
CD3D CEO and RMIT Professor Emeritus James McNay said their unique geophysical sensor has a number of advantages over existing technologies that make it more suitable for space missions. The fact is that MAPrad is smaller, lighter and consumes no more energy than existing georadars, but at the same time much more is available to it. The authors of the development note that he sees several hundred meters below the surface. This is twice as deep as existing technology.