Science

Lunar Quest: Temperatures Around Moon Pits Suitable for Human Inhabitation

Lunar Quest: Temperatures Around Moon Pits Suitable for Human Inhabitation
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NASA's LRO finds lunar pits with temperatures suitable for humans (NASA)

Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft and computer modeling have discovered shaded locations within pits on the Moon that always hover around a comfortable 17 degrees Celsius, a temperature suitable for the humans.

The pits and caves would be thermally stable sites for lunar exploration compared to areas on the Moon’s surface, which heat up to about 127 degrees Celsius during the day and cool to about -173 degrees Celsius at night.

Lunar exploration is part of NASA’s goal to explore and understand the unknown in space, to inspire and benefit humanity.

The pits were first discovered on the Moon in 2009, and since then scientists have wondered if they lead to caves that could be explored or used as shelter. The wells or caves would also protect from cosmic rays, solar radiation and micrometeorites.

“About 16 of the more than 200 pits are probably collapsed lava tubes,” said Tyler Horvath, a planetary sciences doctoral student at the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the new research that was recently published in the journal. Geophysical investigation letters.

“Moon pits are a fascinating feature on the lunar surface,” said LRO Project Scientist Noah Petro of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Knowing that they create a stable thermal environment helps us paint a picture of these unique lunar features and the prospect of someday exploring them.”

Horvath processed data from Diviner, a thermal camera, to find out if the temperature inside the wells diverged from that at the surface.

Focusing on a roughly 100-meter-deep, cylindrical depression that is about the length and width of a football field in an area of ​​the Moon known as Mare Tranquillitatis, Horvath and colleagues used computer modeling to analyze the rock’s thermal properties. . and lunar dust and plot the temperatures of the well over time.

The results revealed that temperatures within the permanently shadowed stretches of the borehole fluctuate only slightly throughout the lunar day, hovering around 17 degrees Celsius. If a cave extended from the bottom of the pit, as images taken by LRO’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera suggest, it would also have this relatively comfortable temperature.

The team believes that the shade overhang is responsible for the constant temperature, which limits heat during the day and prevents heat from radiating at night.

A day on the Moon lasts about 15 Earth days, during which the surface is constantly bombarded by sunlight and is often hot enough to boil water. Brutally cold nights also last about 15 Earth days.

Launched on June 18, 2009, LRO has collected a treasure trove of data with its seven powerful instruments, making an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the Moon.

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The above article has been published by a news agency with minor changes to the title and text.

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