A Japanese led team of researchers has found a large, dark pit on the near side of the Moon that is “as big as a city block and deep as a modest skyscraper.” Probably created billions of years ago, it is considered by the scientists to be a collapsed lava tube. Lava tubes are natural passageways through which lava travels beneath the surface of a lava flow. They are expelled by a volcano during an eruption.
The research was lead by Dr. Junichi Haruyama, the senior researcher for the Terrain Camera Team of the Kaguya (SELENE) mission. Haruyama is also an assistant professor in the Department of Planetary Science at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), which is part of the Japanese space agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The SELENE mission to the Moon was launched on September 14, 2007, from the Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC) in Japan.
The Haruyama-led team stated in the abstract to their paper, “We discovered a vertical hole on the Moon, which is a possible lava tube skylight, using data from SELENE’s two high-resolution cameras: the Terrain Camera and the Multi-band Imager.”