Home Technology NASA Discovers Warm Pits on the Moon

NASA Discovers Warm Pits on the Moon

by George Mensah
nasa..slashbeats

Scientists are eager to investigate shaded areas within pits on the Moon, which, according to computer modeling, are around 63°F.

Unlike the majority of the Moon’s surface, which can reach temperatures of 260°F during the day and -280°F at night, the shaded pits could one day serve as human settlements.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been measuring the temperature of these topographical features, which are most likely the result of collapsed lava tubes, for more than a decade. According to new research(Opens in a new window), the thermal environment of the pits is more hospitable than anywhere else on the Moon, with temperatures hovering around 63°F (17°C).

“Lunar pits are a fascinating feature on the lunar surface,” NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s LRO Project Scientist Noah Petro said in a statement. “Knowing that they create a stable thermal environment helps us paint a picture of these unique lunar features and the possibility of one day exploring them,” says the researcher.

According to NASA, lava tubes 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, a pit opens up, which could lead to a hollow cave.

NASA revealed that two of the most prominent pits have visible overhangs that clearly lead to caves or voids, and that a third pit also leads to a large cave. “Humans evolved in caves, and we may return to caves when we live on the Moon,” said David Paige, leader of the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment aboard LRO.

The team, which included Paige, Paul Hayne of the University of Colorado Boulder, and UCLA doctoral student Tyler Horvath, focused on a 328-foot-deep depression in the Mare Tranquillitatis region of the Moon. They used computer modeling to examine the thermal properties of the rock and lunar dust, as well as to track the temperature of the pit over time.

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Their findings, published earlier this month(Opens in a new window) in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, revealed that temperatures within the pit’s permanently shadowed reaches fluctuate only slightly throughout a lunar day, with the overhang limiting light during the day and preventing heat from radiating away at night (about 15 Earth days).

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