These pit craters, which could potentially lead to caves that could provide human shelter, have temperatures that could make lunar exploration and long-term human settlement on the moon safer because scientists would be able to build thermally stable base camps.
Now that the craters and potential caves are better understood, scientists can accelerate toward conceptualizing a functioning permanent station protected from the extremes of the lunar surface.
“We can establish a long-term presence on the Moon much faster than would otherwise be possible,” said lead study author Tyler Horvath, a doctoral student in planetary sciences at UCLA.
Unlike the lunar surface, 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 Mare Tranquillitatis are human-friendly. constant temperature
The data came from computer modeling and analysis of images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.
“These (pits) are at the resolution limit of the cameras they’re trying to use,” said Briony Horgan, associate professor of Earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. “The fact that they’re able to extract this data and show that it’s pretty plausible, I think it’s a big step forward in looking at the moon.”
“Artemis aims to send people to the region around the South Pole, where we know there are very cold places,” Petro said via email. “Fortunately, we have a lot of information for the south polar region that Artemis will be visiting.”
Give me shelter
According to a news release, the extreme temperature of the moon’s surface has made it difficult for NASA to create fully functional heating and cooling equipment that would produce enough power for longer-term lunar exploration or habitation. However, this research has shown that NASA may not need as much sophisticated equipment as currently assumed to make exploration and settlement a reality.
With the help of the lunar orbiter, scientists discovered craters on the moon in 2009, a finding that led scientists to wonder if 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 a news release.
When a lava tube — a long, hollow tunnel and cave-like structure created by lava — collapses, it opens a hole that can provide access to the rest of the cave.
There are at least two, possibly three, holes leading to the caves, the release said.
Caves would be a stable environment for lunar habitats because they provide some protection from solar radiation and micrometeorite impacts, Horgan said. According to NASA, these formations can also provide a measure of protection against cosmic rays.
Horgan added that it would be useful to build on existing surveys with radar data to find additional potential caves.
The study “gives engineers who are really thinking about how to design a lunar habitat real numbers to work with,” he said. “It’s going to be incredibly important going forward.”
“Continuing to map the temperature of the lunar surface is a high priority for LRO, because not only will we be able to use this information to better understand the environment that future missions to the surface will experience,” Petro said, “but we can also use this information to map different types of surface materials to the changing lighting conditions on the lunar surface.” and find out how he reacts.”
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