Decades ago, Idaho made its mark on NASA history when astronauts were sent to Craters of the Moon National Monument to train for future moon landings. Now our state’s alien landscape is again helping NASA scientists prepare for space exploration, according to a National Geographic article.
In August, NASA explored lava tubes at the southeast Idaho attraction, creating scans with light detection and ranging, or LIDAR, which uses lasers to create 3-D, highly textured maps. The otherworldly tubes, created by flowing lava, could be a primer for subterranean living, a possibility that’s been discussed for future habitation of Mars, according to the National Geographic article.
That’s because scientists have found similar caves exist on Mars, according to the article. They could be a safe haven on a planet with extreme temperatures, volatile dust storms and other geographic challenges.
A Nat Geo video shows one of the largest Idaho caves in technicolor detail, letting you “fly” through and see the fruit of scientists’ labor.
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Of course, it’s not the first time the Idaho caves have seen human visitors. With the right permits, it’s easy to explore them yourself — which means Idahoans will have a leg up on colonizing the red planet if Elon Musk’s predictions come true.