• Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

Parts of the moon have stable temperatures suitable for humans, researchers say

ByRandall B. Phelps

Jul 30, 2022

Hoping to one day live on the moon? Your odds have improved slightly.

The moon has pits and caves where temperatures stay at around 63 degrees Fahrenheit, making human habitation possible, according to new research from planetary scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Although much of the moon’s surface fluctuates between temperatures as high as 260 degrees during the day and as low as 280 degrees below zero at night, researchers say these stable points could transform the future of the moon. lunar exploration and long-term habitation.

Shaded areas of these pits could also provide protection from harmful elements, such as solar radiation, cosmic rays, and micrometeorites.

For perspective, a day or night on the moon equals just over two weeks on Earth, making long-term research and habitation difficult with such hot and cold temperatures.

Some pits are probably collapsed lava tubes

About 16 of the more than 200 pits discovered are most likely from collapsed lava tubes — tunnels that form from lava or cooled crust, according to Tyler Horvath, a UCLA doctoral student and lead researcher.

Researchers believe the overhangs inside these lunar pits, which were originally discovered in 2009, may be the reason for the temperature stability.

The research team also includes David Paige, professor of planetary sciences at UCLA, and Paul Hayne at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Using images from NASA’s Diviner Lunar Radiometer experiment to determine how the moon’s pit and surface temperatures fluctuate, the researchers focused on the Mare Tranquillitatis – a land-sized area of football. They used modeling to study the thermal properties of rock and lunar dust in the pit.

“Humans evolved living in caves, and to caves we may return when we live on the moon,” Paige said in a UCLA press release.

There are still plenty of other challenges to establishing any kind of long-term human residence on the moon, including growing food and providing enough oxygen. The researchers clarified that NASA had no immediate plans to establish a base camp or living quarters there.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.