The moon has wild temperature fluctuations, with parts of the moon heating up to 260 degrees Fahrenheit (127 degrees Celsius) during the day and dropping to minus 280 F (minus 173 C) at night. But the newly analyzed 200 shaded lunar pits are always always 63 F (17 C), meaning they're perfect for humans to shelter from the extreme temperatures. They could also shield astronauts from the dangers of the solar wind, micrometeorites and cosmic rays. Some of those pits may lead to similarly warm caves.
These partially-shaded pits and dark caves could be ideal for a lunar base, scientists say.
In the new study, researchers analyzed the temperatures within a cylindrical pit about 328 feet (100 meters) deep in the Mare Tranquillitatis — the Sea of Tranquility — near the moon's equator. The team's findings revealed that while the pit's floor is illuminated at lunar noon, it's probably the hottest place on the entire surface of our natural satellite, at around 300 F (149 C); meanwhile, temperatures within the permanently shadowed reaches of the pit fluctuate only slightly from Earthlike hoodie temperatures.
Science fiction fans may recall that in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Han and Leia find themselves in what seems to be a cave on an asteroid. They venture out using only masks and breathing apparatus, not needing space suits.
Of course, just because the temperature of a pit on the Moon is room temperature, it does not mean that space suits are not needed; the pit is still in vacuum. However, there have been observations that indicate that water ice might be found in shadowed lunar craters. So, it's not impossible that there might be some sort of partial pressure provided in these areas.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/19/2022)