Parts of the moon may provide temperatures suitable for humans

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that the moon has craters with shaded regions that hover steadily around 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius), a stable temperate range for humans. The Journal of Geophysical Research Letters published the study in July.

These craters, which may lead to caves that could also provide human shelter, have temperatures that could make moon exploration and long-term human habitation much safer, as scientists will be able to set up thermally stable base camps.

“Humans evolved while living in caves, and we may go back to caves when we live on the moon,” study co-author David Page, professor of planetary sciences at UCLA, said in a press release. Paige also leads the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, an instrument on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Now that there is a better understanding of potential craters and caves, scientists can accelerate the pace of envisioning a viable permanent station, shielded from the harsh conditions of the lunar surface.

“We could be able to prove a long-term presence on the Moon sooner than possible,” said study lead author Tyler Horvath, a doctoral student in planetary sciences at UCLA.

Unlike the surface of the Moon, which warms up to 260 degrees Fahrenheit (127 degrees Celsius) during the day and drops to minus 280 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 173 degrees Celsius) at night, these lunar craters in the Mare Tranquilites region are friendly to humans, and are temperature stable. .

(Mare Tranquillitatis, better known as the Sea of ​​Tranquility, is where Apollo 11 landed, the first mission to put humans on the Moon, due to its relatively smooth and flat terrain.)

The data comes from analysis of images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft and computer modeling.

“These[craters]are well within the resolution of the cameras they’re trying to use,” said Briony Horgan, associate professor of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. “The fact that they were able to pull this data and show that it was very compelling, I think is a huge step forward in looking at the moon.”

Learning about these potential craters and caves helps scientists better understand how other extreme environments behave, such as the lunar polar regions where the Artemis mission is going, said Noah Petro, head of NASA’s Geology, Geophysics and Geochemistry Laboratory. The NASA Artemis program aims to return humans to the Moon and land the first woman and first people of color on the Moon by 2025.

“Artemis’ goal is to send humans to the area around Antarctica, where we know there are some very cold places,” Pietro said by email. “Fortunately, we have a large amount of data for the Antarctic region where Artemis is going to visit.”

give me shelter

Extreme lunar surface temperatures have made it difficult for NASA to create fully functional heating and cooling equipment that would produce enough power to allow long-term exploration or habitation of the Moon, according to the news release. However, NASA may not need as complex equipment as it is currently assumed to make exploration and habitation a reality, this research has shown.

With the help of the Lunar Orbiter, scientists discovered craters on the Moon in 2009, a discovery that has led scientists to wonder if there are connected caves that could be explored or even used as shelters.

“About 16 of the more than 200 craters may be collapsed lava tubes,” Horvath said in the press release.

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When the lava tube – a long, hollow tunnel and lava-like structure – collapses, a crater opens that can create an entrance to the rest of the cave.

There were at least two, likely three craters, with overhanging protrusions leading into the caves, the statement said.

Horgan said the caves would be a stable environment for lunar habitats because they provide some protection from solar radiation and the impacts of small meteorites. These formations could also provide a measure of protection from cosmic rays, according to NASA.

Horgan added that it would be useful to build on existing research with radar data to find additional potential caves.

The research, she said, “gives engineers who are really thinking about how to design a habitat on the moon real numbers to work with.” “This will be very important going forward.”

Currently, NASA has plans for robotic exploration on the Moon through its Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. From December 2022, cargo flights will provide instruments that navigate and map the lunar surface, conduct investigations, measure radiation levels and assess how human activity affects the moon. These flights give scientists the ability to reach anywhere on the moon, including Mare Tranquillitatis, Pietro said.

“Continuing to map the lunar surface temperature is a top priority for LRO, as we will be able to use this information to not only better understand the environment, and future missions to the surface will test,” Petro said, “but we can.” Also learn how different types of surface materials respond to changing lighting conditions on the Moon. “

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