You no longer need to worry about being warm or cold in order to live peacefully on the Moon. UCLA planetary scientists have found cool, shaded areas within lunar pits that average 63 degrees Fahrenheit, making them perfect base camps for lunar exploration and long-term living.
In contrast to the rest of the moon’s surface, which has a temperature of 260 degrees during the day and drops to 280 degrees below zero at night, these pits and any caverns they may lead to have “warmer weather.”
Since the 2009 discovery of pits on the moon, researchers have pondered whether or not those pits connect to caves that might serve as hiding places. About 16 of the more than 200 holes, according to Tyler Horvath, a UCLA doctorate student in planetary science who oversaw the research, are likely collapsed lava tubes.
Horvath analysed photos from the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, a thermal camera that is one of six equipment on NASA’s robotic Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, to determine whether the temperature inside the pits varied from that on the surface.
The temperature in the permanently darkened parts of the pit fluctuates just slightly throughout the lunar day, staying at about 63 degrees, according to research that was recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Additionally, a cave that protrudes from the put’s bottom would have a suitable temperature.
coldest nights and the hottest days
In the Mare Tranquillitatis region of the moon, Horvath and his colleagues Paul Hayne of the University of Colorado Boulder and David Paige, a professor of planetary science at UCLA, concentrated on a roughly cylinder, 100-meter-deep depression that was roughly the length and width of a football field. The thermal characteristics of the rock and lunar dust were examined using computer modeling, and the pit’s temperatures were tracked over time.
The research team hypothesizes that the steady temperature in a cave is caused by the shadowing overhang, which prevents heat from radiating away at night. On the other hand, the pit bottom can reach daylight temperatures of close to 300 degrees, which is around 40 degrees hotter than the surface of the moon.
The illuminated floor at midday is probably the hottest spot on the entire moon since the Tranquillitatis pit is the closest to the lunar equator, according to Horvath.
Why is this finding significant?
On the Moon, a day can be as hot as boiling water and lasts for almost 15 days on Earth. There are also around 15 Earth days worth of unbearably frigid nights. The creation of heating and cooling systems that can function in such conditions and provide enough energy to support them would be a significant obstacle to lunar exploration and colonization. Solar power, which is used by NASA the most frequently, does not function at night
So we go back to the caverns.
Scientists can concentrate on other problems by creating “homes” in these holes, such as growing food, supplying oxygen for astronauts, collecting materials for experiments, and expanding the base. The pits or caves would also provide some protection from solar radiation, micrometeorites, and cosmic rays.
According to Paige, who is in charge of the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, “Humans developed while living in caves, and to caves we might return when we dwell on the moon.”
Since 2009, Diviner has been continually mapping the moon, resulting in the second-largest planetary dataset ever produced by NASA. The data from the Diviner experiment have been improved by the team’s ongoing work on lunar pits.
Because Diviner had never been used to examine objects this small, Horvath explained, “we noticed that it had a little of double vision, causing all of our maps to a be bit hazy.” The scientists had to synchronize the instrument’s several pictures in order to get a precise thermal reading down to the level of a single pixel. Maps of the moon’s surface with a significantly greater resolution were produced as a result of this approach.
The thermal management system of the rover for NASA’s projected Moon Diver mission was developed using information from the project’s early stages of lunar pit thermal modeling. For this mission, the rover will rappel into the Tranquillitatis pit in order to study the layers of lava flows visible in its walls and to explore any caves that may already exist. Horvath and Hayne were members of the science team.