Scientists have discovered shaded locations within pits on the Moon that always hover around a comfortable 63 °F (about 17 °C). The NASA-funded researchers used data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft and computer modeling.

NASA Spacecraft Finds Pits on the Moon That Always Hover Around a Comfortable Temperature

NASA Spacecraft Finds Pits on the Moon That Always Hover Around a Comfortable Temperature The pits, and caves to which they may lead, would make thermally stable sites for lunar exploration missions. Their comfortable temperatures are in stark contrast to areas at the Moon’s surface, which heat up to around 260 °F (about 127 °C) during the day and cool to minus 280 °F (about minus 173 °C) at night. Lunar exploration remains a part of NASA’s goal to explore and understand the unknown in space, to inspire and benefit humanity. Since pits were first discovered on the Moon in 2009, scientists wondered if they led to caves that could be explored or used as shelters. Besides for the more stable temperatures, the pits or caves could also offer some protection from cosmic rays, solar radiation, and micrometeorites.

NASA Spacecraft Finds Pits on the Moon “About 16 of the more than 200 pits are probably collapsed lava tubes,” said Tyler Horvath, a doctoral student in planetary science at the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the new research, recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “Lunar pits are a fascinating feature on the lunar surface,” said LRO Project Scientist Noah Petro of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “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.”

Lava tubes, which are also found on Earth, form when molten lava flows beneath a field of cooled lava or a crust forms over a river of lava, leaving a long, hollow tunnel. If the ceiling of a solidified lava tube collapses, it opens a pit that can lead into the rest of the cave-like tube. Two of the most prominent lunar pits have visible overhangs that clearly lead to caves or voids, and there is strong evidence that another’s overhang may also lead to a large cave. “Humans evolved living in caves, and to caves we might return when we live on the Moon,” said David Paige, a co-author of the paper who leads the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment aboard LRO that made the temperature measurements used in the study.

Source: This news is originally published by scitechdaily

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