The shady pits and caves on the MOON are cool enough for base camps, the study says.

The moon is known for temperatures that are too extreme to sustain life, ranging from a scorching 260°F during the day to an icy -280°F at night.

But a new study shows that temperatures in some shady pits and caves on the Moon hover around a “comfortable” 63°F, suggesting they could be ideal places for lunar base camps.

Experts reviewed the data NASALunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been continuously measuring the temperature of the lunar surface for over 11 years.

The results show that pits and caves will become safer and more thermally stable base camps for lunar exploration and long-term habitation than the rest of the lunar surface.

They could also provide lunar dwellers with protection from cosmic rays, solar radiation, and micrometeorites.

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Prominent pits on the Moon have visible ledges that clearly lead into some kind of cave or void. The picture shows such a hole in the region of the Moon, known as the Sea of ​​Tranquility or Mare Tranquillitatis, taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter robotic orbiter.

TEMPERATURE ON THE MOON

The Moon’s surface heats up to 260°F (126°C) during the day and drops to -280°F (-173°C) at night.

According to NASA, daytime temperatures near the lunar equator reach 250°F (120°C) and nighttime temperatures reach -208°F (-130°C).

The Moon’s poles are even colder, down to -424°F (-253°C).

Days and nights on the Moon last nearly 15 Earth days, so its surface is constantly bombarded with temperatures hot enough to boil water before sinking into unimaginable cold.

“Humans evolved by living in caves, and we could return to caves when we live on the moon,” said David Page, professor of planetary science at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Ever since the JAXA SELENE spacecraft first discovered pits on the moon in 2009, scientists have wondered if they lead to caves that can be explored or used as hiding places.

There are over 200 lunar pits, about 16 of which these are likely collapsed “lava tubes” – long hollow tunnels that form when molten lava flows under a cooled lava field or crusts over a lava river.

If the ceiling of a frozen lava tube collapses, a pit opens up that can lead to the rest of the cave-like tube.

For the study, the researchers processed images from the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, a thermal imaging camera on NASA’s Robotic Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The images allowed the team to figure out if the temperatures inside the pits were different from those on the surface.

They focused on a roughly cylindrical depression 100 meters deep, as long and as wide as a football field, in an area of ​​the Moon known as the Sea of ​​Tranquility or the Sea of ​​Tranquility.

Tranquility Base, the site of the first manned moon landing in July 1969, is located in the southwest corner of Tranquility Sea.

Because the 100-meter-deep hole is closest to the lunar equator, the illuminated floor at noon is probably the hottest place on the Moon, but, crucially, parts in the shade should be cooler, the team reasoned.

The researchers processed images from the thermal imaging camera on NASA's Robotic Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (shown here in space) during the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment ¿.

The researchers processed images from the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, a thermal imager on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter robotic orbiter (pictured here in space).

The researchers focused on a roughly cylindrical depression 100 meters deep, as long and as wide as a football field, in a region of the Moon known as the Sea of ​​Tranquility or the Sea of ​​Tranquility (circled here in red).  )

The researchers focused on a roughly cylindrical depression 100 meters deep, as long and as wide as a football field, in a region of the Moon known as the Sea of ​​Tranquility or the Sea of ​​Tranquility (circled here in red). )

The researchers used computer simulations to analyze the thermal properties of rocks and lunar dust, and plot the pit’s temperature over a period of time.

The results showed that the temperature in the permanently shaded parts of the pit fluctuated only slightly during the lunar day.

Pit temperatures vary minimally around a “comfortable” 63°F (17°C) anywhere the sun isn’t directly shining, their article says.

“If a cave extends from such a pit, it will also maintain this comfortable temperature along its entire length, varying by less than 1°C throughout the entire lunar day,” they write.

“Although we cannot be completely sure of the existence of the cave through remote observations, such features will open the door for future exploration and living on the Moon.

“They could provide shelter from the extreme temperature changes present elsewhere on the lunar surface.”

Tranquility Base, the site of the first manned moon landing in July 1969, is located in the southwest corner of Tranquility Sea.  Pictured is Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.

Tranquility Base, the site of the first manned moon landing in July 1969, is located in the southwest corner of Tranquility Sea. Pictured is Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.

The team says prominent pits on the Moon, including the Mare Tranquillitatis pit and another in Mare Ingenii (Sea of ​​Smartness), have visible protrusions.

These protrusions are responsible for a stable temperature, limiting heating during the day and preventing heat radiation at night.

Meanwhile, the sun-scorched portion of the bottom of the quarry is reaching daytime temperatures of around 300°F – about 40 degrees warmer than on the Moon’s surface.

So the astronauts will have to stay away from those parts of the pit that are not covered by shadow.

The team says prominent pits on the Moon, including the Mare Tranquillitatis pit and another in Mare Ingenii (Sea of ​​Smartness), have visible protrusions.

The team says prominent pits on the Moon, including the Mare Tranquillitatis pit and another in Mare Ingenii (Sea of ​​Smartness), have visible protrusions.

In the photo there is another hole in Mare Ingenii (Sea of ​​Smartness), which is located on the far side of the Moon.  Note the critical ledge around the edge of the pit.

In the photo there is another hole in Mare Ingenii (Sea of ​​Smartness), which is located on the far side of the Moon. Note the critical ledge around the edge of the pit.

When NASA returns humans to the moon later this decade under the Artemis program, its broader vision will be to create a lunar outpost so humans can survive for longer than just avoiding visits.

Days and nights on the Moon last nearly 15 Earth days, so its surface is constantly bombarded with temperatures hot enough to boil water before sinking into unimaginable cold.

Lunar pits and caves could be key for NASA because solar power can only work during the day, not at night.

Thus, without heating and cooling equipment capable of constantly working in conditions of changing temperatures, habitation on the Moon may face an “impossible barrier”.

Research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon in 2025 as part of the Artemis mission.

Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and the goddess of the moon in Greek mythology.

NASA chose her to represent their return journey to the Moon, which will take astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2025, including the first woman and the next man.

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly challenging missions that will allow humans to explore the Moon and Mars.

Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s Deep Space Exploration System: Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and ground systems at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Artemis 1 will be an unmanned flight that will lay the foundation for human exploration of deep space and demonstrate our commitment and ability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.

During this flight, the spacecraft will launch the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.

It will fly 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from the Earth, thousands of miles from the Moon over a roughly three-week mission.

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly challenging missions that will allow humans to explore the Moon and Mars.  This drawing explains the different stages of the mission.

Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly challenging missions that will allow humans to explore the Moon and Mars. This drawing explains the different stages of the mission.

Orion will stay in space longer than any astronaut ship without docking to a space station and will return home faster and hotter than ever before.

With this first exploration mission, NASA will spearhead the next phases of human deep space exploration, where astronauts will build and begin testing systems near the Moon needed for missions to the Moon’s surface and exploration of other places far from Earth, including Mars.

The crew will take a different trajectory and test important Orion systems with humans on board.

Together, Orion, SLS, and ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most demanding crew and cargo needs in deep space.

Ultimately, NASA aims to have a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.

The space agency hopes this colony will unlock new scientific discoveries, showcase new technological advances, and lay the foundation for private companies that will build the lunar economy.