We might be a little bit closer to a moon base now.
A new discovery, however, may bring that dream to reality sooner than realized.
In a sign that the United States and Soviet Union's cold war battle for supremacy has been replaced by an Asian space race, China has said it wants to conduct its first manned mission to the moon in around 2036 as part of its lunar and Mars exploration program.
The country's Selenological and Engineering Explorer, or SELENE, probe uncovered the cave - measuring about 30 miles long by 330 feet wide - under an area called the Marius Hills. JAXA used radio waves to confirm the existence of the cave after examining the hole. Using GRAIL's information, the JAXA team was able to cut down the amount of data they needed to sort through and they eventually found evidence of lava tubes near Marius Hills - a set of volcanic domes located on the moon.
The cave may contain ice or water deposits that could be transformed into fuel, according to data sent back by the orbiter, nicknamed Kaguya after the moon princess in a Japanese fairytale, The Guardian of the United Kingdom reported.
JAXA said the latest finding is remarkable, as the cave could help in exploration of the moon, shielding astronauts from extreme temperature and high radiation from space. The cave has been given the nickname of Kaguya, a moon princess in a Japanese fairytale.
"It's important to know where and how big lunar lava tubes are if we're ever going to construct a lunar base", Haruyama said in a statement. During the day, temperatures can reach around 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) and at night can reach as low as minus 173 degrees Celsius (minus 279.4 degrees Fahrenheit), according to Space.com.
If she managed to hide the crack in her surface for 3 billion years, what exactly makes you think the moon wants you in there?
The study's co-authors said that their work is just beginning as the search for lunar caves continues.
The cave has already been proposed as a possible candidate for a future lunar exploration base or human colony, the Guardian reports. "But knowing these things is also important for basic science".