The opportunity for humans to permanently reside on the Moon is increasingly bright.
In early human history, caves provided humans with protection from harsh natural elements. Now, scientists have discovered a place that could be a safe haven for humans on the Moon, thanks to its similar temperature to Earth.
According to researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, the Moon has craters with shaded areas with a temperature that fluctuates steadily around the 17 degrees Celsius mark – a temperate temperature range suitable for humans. The journal Geophysical Research Letters published the study in July.
Study co-author David Paige, professor of planetary science at UCLA, said: “Humans used to live in caves, and we could return to caves while living on the Moon.”
Now that they have a better understanding of potential craters and caves, scientists can begin to consider studying a permanent, protected research station from the harsh conditions on the Moon. “We were able to establish a permanent presence on the moon earlier than expected,” said lead author Tyler Horvath, a doctoral student in planetary science at UCLA.
Unlike the lunar surface, which heats up to 127 degrees Celsius during the day and drops to -173 degrees Celsius at night, lunar craters in the Mare Tranquillitatis region always maintain a stable temperature.
(Mare Tranquillitatis, commonly known as the Quiet Sea, is where Apollo 11 (the first ship to put a man on the Moon) landed due to its relatively flat and smooth terrain.)
The data comes from analysis of images taken by NASA’s Lunar Orbiter spacecraft and computer modeling. Noah Petro, director of NASA’s Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Laboratory, says it’s helpful to learn about craters and caves. It helps us understand the harsh environments on the Moon, such as the polar regions where the Artemis mission is scheduled to take place.
NASA’s Artemis program aims to return humans to the Moon. The crew also includes the first woman and first black man to land on the Moon’s surface in 2025.
“Artemis aims to bring humans to the area around the Moon’s south pole – where it is very cold. Fortunately, we have a large amount of data about this place,” said Petro.
The extreme temperatures of the Moon’s surface have given NASA a headache in creating heating and cooling equipment that would allow humans to permanently reside there. However, with the discovery of new caves, NASA may not need such sophisticated equipment.
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