Some parts of the moon can provide temperatures suitable for humans

Some parts of the moon can provide temperatures suitable for humans
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In early human history, caves provided people with protection from the elements and a place to call home. Now, similar formations on the Moon could provide safe lunar shelters for pioneering astronauts, thanks to their Earth-like temperatures.

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

These craters, which could potentially lead to caves that could also shelter humans, have temperatures that could make lunar exploration and long-term human habitation on the moon safe, as scientists would be able to establish thermally stable base camps.

“Humans evolved living in caves, and we can go back to caves when we’re on the moon,” said study co-author David Paige, a professor of planetary science at UCLA. news release. Paige also leads the Deviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, an instrument on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Now that craters and potential caves are better understood, scientists may be able to speed up the idea of ​​a viable permanent station protected from the extremes of the moon’s surface.

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

Unlike the surface of the Moon, which heats 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 Tranquilitatis region have a human-friendly, stable temperature.

(Mare Tranquillitatis, commonly known as Sea of ​​Tranquility(Where Apollo 11, the first mission to send humans to the Moon, landed because of its smooth and relatively flat terrain.)

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

“These (pits) are right at the resolution limit of the cameras they’re trying to use,” said Brynie Horgan, associate professor of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. “The fact that they were able to extract that data and show that it was pretty convincing, I think that’s a big step forward in looking at the moon.”

Learning about these craters and potential caves helps scientists better understand how other extreme environments behave, such as the lunar polar regions where the Artemis mission is headed, said Noah Petro, head of NASA’s Planetary Geology, Geophysics and Geochemistry Lab. NASA Artemis Program Returning humans to the moon and landing the first woman and the first person of color on the lunar surface by 2025.

“The goal of Artemis was to send people to the region around the South Pole, where we know there are some very cold places,” Petro said via email. “Fortunately, we have a lot of data for the South Pole region where Artemis will go.”

Extreme temperatures on the moon’s surface have made it difficult for NASA to develop fully functional heating and cooling equipment that would produce enough power for long-term lunar exploration or habitation, according to the news release. However, making exploration and accommodation a reality may not require the complex equipment currently assumed, this study showed.

With lunar orbiters, scientists discovered craters on the moon in 2009, prompting scientists to think that there are connecting caves that could be explored or even used as shelters.

“About 16 of the more than 200 craters are likely collapsed lava tubes,” Horvath said in the news release.

When a lava tube—a long, hollow tunnel and cave-like structure formed by lava—collapses, it opens a hole that can form the entrance to the rest of the cave.

At least two, possibly three, pits have overhangs that lead to caves, the statement said.

Caves would be a stable environment for lunar habitation because they offer some protection from solar radiation and micrometeorite impacts, Horgan said. These formations may also provide a measure of protection against cosmic rays, according to NASA.

Building on current research with radar data to find additional potential caves will be helpful, Horgan added.

The research “gives engineers who are thinking about how to design a habitat on the moon to really work,” he said. “That will be incredibly important going forward.”

Currently, there are plans for robotic exploration of the Moon through NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Service Program. starting December 2022, cargo flights will deliver devices that will navigate and map the lunar surface, conduct probes, measure radiation levels, and assess how human activity affects the moon. These flights give scientists the ability to reach anywhere on the moon’s surface, including Mare Tranquilitatis, Petro said.

“Continuously mapping the temperature of the lunar surface is a high priority for LRO, because not only can we use that information to better understand the environment that future missions will experience on the surface,” Petro said, “but we can also use the changing light conditions on the lunar surface to help us better understand the environment.” Also learn about how different types of surface materials react.”

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