Tuesday, April 9, 2013

099: Lunar Deep Delve

ENTRY 099: Lunar Deep Delve

Unlike some other bodies in the Solar system, beneath Luna’s relatively thin crust (~50km) and solidified mantle (~1,000km) lies a molten core, the cause of weak seismic activity (“moonquakes”) and internal heating of the planetoid. Ever since permanent habitation of Luna began, various proposals have been put forward for the relatively grandiose project of somehow tapping this thermal source, either for power or to heat a habitat. Most of the early theoretical models proved too expensive, unfeasible, or undesirable given current technology (including one project proposing a series of controlled antimatter explosions), and for decades the Lunar Deep Delve was only a pipedream.

The project may have remained a low-priority thought experiment until a deep seismic survey conducted out of Shackle revealed an apparently natural cavern 49 km beneath the south pole, at the Mohorovičić discontinuity, where the crust meets the upper mantle. When the survey results hit the Mesh it captured imaginations throughout the Lunar-Lagrange Alliance, and hypercorp-matched public crowdfunding quickly provided the seed capital to begin a serious effort. Zbrny Group was quick to become a major backer of the project, donating a substantial amount of equipment from depleted comet mining operations, as well as encouraging its engineering employees to volunteer their time and expertise, with ZG counting it as part of their working hours.

The Deep Delve project was broken up into stages, both to assure the physical stability of the project and to accommodate any sudden lack of funds or resources to continue. Stage 1 of the Lunar Deep Delve was completed last year; a 13-kilometer bore ten meters in diameter, with a space excavating at the bottom of the shaft to build a microhabitat consisting of a stable drilling platform, waste rock processing, lunar geoscience station, and education center. The primary drilling for Stage 2, a secondary bore that will take the Deep Delve to a depth of 24 kilometers, is nearly complete, after which a cavern will be made as a platform for the Stage 3 bore.

Using the Lunar Deep Delve

On the one hand, the LDD is yet another impressive, if low-key, macroengineering feat, an heroic undertaking that can provide an exotic setting and backdrop for the adventures of player characters. On the other hand, it is, at the moment, just a rather large, deep hole in the ground, and so the gamemaster may need to spice things up a bit. One possible hook is the Zbrny Group, which is being uncharacteristically generous in its donation of equipment and personal for this rather low-key project—there are a thousand ways a hypercorp accountant can squeeze an environmental credit, tax deferment, or “transportation expense” out of any non-profit, and it is entirely possible that the whole scheme is a scam for ZG to pawn off their faulty, obsolete, and devaluated mining equipment while pocketing both an increased rep and a few credits. Alternately, ZG’s funding may have something to do with the target cavern itself—a bubble of space which, from a lunar geophysics standpoint, should not exist. Several parties might be interested in what caused the bubble, and what might still be trapped in it.


  • In lunar gravity, a morph falling from thirteen kilometers up is never going to hit terminal velocity, but will continue to accelerate until it smacks into the bottom at about 200 meters per second—probably after smashing into the walls a few times. Naturally, security measures at the Deep Delve seek to prevent this, so when a volunteer engineer for the project turns into a nasty pink stain on top of the Stage 1 drilling platform, people want answers…even the whiff of scandal could cause the crowdfunding that supports the LDD to dry up, and the lead group need independent investigators to assure there was no foul play. The LDD has a good following, and it’ll be a sizable rep bonus if the PCs do a good job.


  1. There's no atmosphere on Luna and therefore, no terminal velocity. Only the velocity at impact... which is 205 meters per second after a 13 km fall in lunar gravity (which takes 2.1 minutes, by the way). *SPLAT*

    Still, a *hollow* cavern under that much rock? Especially at the Moho? Oh, yeah, that's not natural. I smell TITANs... or maybe a Pandora Gate.

    1. Good catch, fixed terminal velocity ref.

      Re: the cavern - Relatively hollow. It could just be a region of significantly less-dense material, maybe even trapped gasses - but still, nothing like that should exist that deep. Most terran caves and such as the work of volcanic or water action, neither of which is a player on the moon. So whatever it is may be either freaky or just not natural...dare your players travel towards the center of Luna? :P