Apollo astronauts on the Moon

NASA’s New Tech to Unearth Moon’s Secrets

In a groundbreaking move, NASA aims to delve deep into the moon's subterranean world, potentially reshaping our understanding and future lunar expeditions.


Despite the fact we have extensively explored the moon, Earth’s natural satellite holds many more secrets that we have yet to unravel. To do so, we must go beyond our current technology, and develop new devices that will allow us to look deeper into the Moon than ever before.

In a groundbreaking move, NASA aims to delve deep into the moon’s subterranean world, potentially reshaping our understanding and future lunar expeditions.

The Moon’s Hidden Secrets

Our satellite neighbor, the moon, holds mysteries deep beneath its craters and plains. While some parts of the lunar subsurface have been charted, its core remains elusive—potentially harboring vast lava caverns, precious minerals, or even water reserves.

NASA’s Intriguing Innovation

Change is on the horizon. NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is backing a pioneering technology from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). This endeavor, named the Passively Expanding Dipole Array for Lunar Sounding (PEDALS), promises to revolutionize our insight into the moon’s inner sanctum.

Leveraging a unique self-deployment method, PEDALS can strategically place a massive antenna on the moon’s terrain. Once operational, it is geared to extract subsurface details up to several kilometers deep, potentially surpassing previous records.


The Race for In-Depth Analysis

To date, the most profound lunar data hails from the Lunar Radar Sounder aboard the SELENE orbiter, affectionately termed Kayuga. Despite its prowess in discerning signals up to 5 km beneath, Kayuga fell short of delivering sharp imagery before its intended crash in 2009.

Meanwhile, older lunar sounds, some reminiscent of the Apollo era, delivered clearer pictures but failed to penetrate deep enough to illuminate the moon’s core intricacies. The JPL team’s presentation pinpoints five pressing queries PEDALS could answer—from mapping out volcanic 3D interfaces to demystifying lunar rock density.

The PEDALS Process: Descent and Deployment

So how does PEDALS work its magic? The system embraces the tried-and-true method of an airbag-assisted descent. Upon touchdown, a coilable boom springs into action—an innovation that NASA has meticulously studied over the years. While there isn’t a strict cap on the boom’s extent, considerations like the airbag’s size and the requisite area for the antenna come into play.

PEDALS’ information-gathering prowess hinges on its antenna—a component still in the design phase. The team contemplates two designs—a loop antenna or a coupled dipole, each with their merits and limitations, necessitating further research.

Moon’s Rugged Terrain: A Challenge?

The moon’s surface isn’t exactly a smooth expanse. Vast boulders lie scattered, complicating PEDALS’ deployment. JPL’s findings emphasize locating a vast, relatively obstacle-free zone—potentially requiring an area many times larger than the antenna itself. While this constraint isn’t insurmountable (a future rover could assist in clearing the way), it presents a logistical puzzle.


Presently, the PEDALS project’s fate remains uncertain post its 2021 funding. Yet, the prospect of a monumental antenna unveiling the moon’s depths ensures that such an initiative will inevitably shine.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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