(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have found lunar pits with comfortable temperatures that could one day serve as a refuge for people on the moon.
As humans return to the Moon, and more and more exploration is carried out in and around its orbit, one of the most important challenges will be to provide conditions conducive to the survival of species in this airless world.
Scientists have now identified thermally stable locations in lunar caves that could one day serve as shelters for humans.
In these pits, temperature conditions hover around 17 degrees Celsius and create thermally stable locations for lunar exploration, compared to areas on the lunar surface where temperatures reach 127 degrees Celsius during the day and minus 173 degrees Celsius at night.
Using data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), scientists have found that these pits, first discovered in 2009, are a good place to conduct lunar exploration.
These pits could be the entrance to lunar caves, which could serve as a base for major exploration and even be used as shelters for would-be astronauts.
A study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters suggests that lunar sinkholes could provide access to underground lava tubes of unknown length.
“Moon caves will provide a temperate, stable and safe thermal environment for long-term exploration and settlement of the Moon,” the researchers said in the paper.
“Moon pits are an interesting feature of the lunar surface. Knowing that they create a stable thermal environment helps us paint a picture of these unique lunar features and the prospect of one day exploring them,” said LRO project scientist Noah Petro in a statement.
These pits were probably formed by the collapse of the lava tube ceiling. The team has now been able to study the environment of one of the famous pits located in Mare Tranquillitatis.
“The thermal environment of the pit is more favorable than any other place on the Moon, where temperatures fluctuate minimally around a comfortable 17 degrees Celsius wherever the Sun does not shine directly,” the paper says.
The team focused on a 100-meter-wide pit the size of a football field and used computer simulations to analyze the thermal properties of the rock and lunar dust and plot the pit’s temperatures over time.
Scientists suggest that if the cave extends from the bottom of the pit, as the pictures show, it will also have a relatively comfortable temperature.
The researchers said that just as our ancient ancestors lived in caves before evolving into modern humans, they could expect a similar situation on the Moon.
These caves could be a lifesaver for species on the Moon, where one day equals 15 Earth days, during which the surface is constantly illuminated by sunlight, followed by harsh cold nights that also last about 15 Earth days.
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