Researchers found that some parts of the Moon have stable temperatures suitable for humans. WFAE 90.7
Hoping to live on the moon one day? Your chances just got better.
According to new research by planetary scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, the Moon has craters and caves where temperatures remain around 63 degrees Fahrenheit, making human habitation likely.
Although much of the Moon’s surface fluctuates in temperature from 260 degrees during the day to minus 280 degrees at night, researchers say these stable locations could change the future of lunar exploration and long-term habitats.
The shaded areas of these craters can also provide protection from harmful elements, such as solar radiation, cosmic rays and microscopic meteorites.
For perspective, a day or night on the Moon is equivalent to a little more than two weeks on Earth – making long-term research and habitat difficult with such extremely hot and cold temperatures.
Some craters are likely to collapse lava tubes
According to Tyler Horvath, a UCLA doctoral student and head of research, about 16 of the more than 200 discovered craters most likely come from collapsed lava tubes — tunnels that formed from cold lava or crust.
Researchers think the overhangs inside these lunar craters, which were initially discovered in 2009, may be the reason for the stagnant temperatures.
The research team also includes David Paige and Paul Heyne, UCLA professors of planetary science at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Using images from NASA’s Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment to determine the Moon’s crater and surface temperature fluctuations, the researchers focused on Mare Tranquillitatis — an area about the size of a football field. They used modeling to study the thermal properties of the rock and lunar dust in the crater.
“Humans evolved by living in caves, and we can return to caves when we lived on the Moon,” Paige said in a UCLA press release.
There are still many other challenges to establishing any kind of long-term human habitation on the Moon – including growing food and providing enough oxygen. The researchers clarified that NASA has no immediate plans to establish a base camp or settlement there.
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