Photo Credit: NASA
Caves were a haven for ancient humans. Groups live in the buildings, which shield them from the environment’s dangerous elements. Using the same structure today, astronauts on the Moon might offer the same refuge. The temperatures inside these cave-like formations on the Moon are very similar to those on Earth.
Scientists have discovered that the temperatures in moon pits are typically approximately 63 degrees Fahrenheit, or 17 degrees Celsius. This range can be regarded as stable for humans. Last July, the Geophysical Research Letters published the findings.
By giving astronauts a place to remain for longer periods of time, the pit craters could make lunar exploration safer than it is currently. The locations are suitable for the construction of thermally stable research sites.
Humans evolved while living in caves, and if we dwell on the Moon, we may go back to those caves, according to David Paige, a professor of planetary science at the University of California, Los Angeles, who is also one of the principal investigators for NASA’s Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment.
The new findings on the conditions of the pits and their thermal stability will lead scientists to envision permanent working stations in areas that are safer than other lunar regions.
Tyler Horvath, a doctoral student at UCLA’s planetary science department, said, “We could be able to establish a long-term presence on the moon sooner than may have otherwise been possible.”
A large portion of the Moon’s surface experiences very unpredictable weather, with daytime highs of 127 degrees Celsius and nighttime lows of negative 173 degrees Celsius. However, the temperature stays constant across the Mare Tranquillitatis region, in contrast to these places.
The first human lunar mission, Apollo 11, touched down in the Mare Tranquillitatis zone. The area was selected because of its level topography.
Briony Horgan of the atmospheric and planetary sciences at Purdue University stated, “These (pits) are right at the resolution limit of the cameras that they’re trying to use.”
“The fact that they are able to pull that data out and show that it was pretty convincing, I think it’s a big step forward in looking at the moon.”
Noah Petro, NASA’s chief of the Planetary Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Lab, is ecstatic about the discovery, saying it could help scientists understand the behavior of other regions on the Moon. The NASA Artemis program is now stationed in the Moon’s polar regions for exploration.
“Artemis has the goal of sending humans to the region around the South Pole, where we know there are some very cold places,” said the chief.
“Fortunately, we have a large amount of data for the south pole region where Artemis will visit.”
Moon stay could be extended
The scientific community’s recent discovery opens up new possibilities for lunar exploration. Because of the extreme temperatures on the Moon’s surface, NASA previously found it difficult to build long-term facilities there. However, now that these areas with stable temperatures have been discovered, NASA may not need to develop more sophisticated technologies to withstand the Moon’s presumed volatile temperature conditions.
Horvath said, “About 16 of the more than 200 pits are probably collapsed lava tubes.”
Under the Moon’s surface, lava tubes collapse, creating caverns. The collapsing tubes form a depression and eventually lead into the rest of the cave. Because the newly formed caves are shielded from the heat of the sun and other damaging debris found on the Moon’s surface, they remain stable.
“Continuing to map the temperature of the lunar surface is a high priority for LRO, as we’ll be able to use that information not only to better understand the environment future missions to the surface will experience,” said Petro.
“But we can also learn about how different types of surface material respond to the changing lighting conditions at the lunar surface.”
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