Laurent Emmanuel / AFP via Getty Images
Hope to live on the moon someday? Your chances just got a little better.
The moon has craters and caves where temperatures stay at around 63 degrees Fahrenheit, making human habitation possible, according to the new search From a planetary scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Although most of the lunar surface fluctuates from temperatures of up to 260 degrees during the day to 280 degrees below zero at night, researchers say these stable spots could change the future of lunar exploration and long-term habitation.
Shaded areas in these craters can also provide protection from harmful elements, such as solar radiation, cosmic rays, and micrometeorites.
For perspective, day or night on the Moon equates to just over two weeks on Earth – making long-range search and habitation difficult with the extremely hot and cold temperatures.
Some of the craters are likely to be collapsed lava tubes
It is likely that about 16 of the more than 200 craters that have been discovered come from collapsed lava tubes — tunnels that form from cooling lava or crust, according to Tyler Horvath, a UCLA doctoral student and head of the research.
Researchers believe that the outcrops inside these lunar craters, first discovered in 2009, could be the cause of the temperature stability.
The research team also includes UCLA Planetary Science Professor David Page and Paul Heine at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Using images from NASA Diviner . Lunar Radiometer Experiment To determine the oscillation of the moon’s crater and its surface temperatures, the researchers focused on Mare Tranquillitatis – an area the size of a football field. They used modeling to study the thermal properties of the lunar rocks and dust in the crater.
“Humans evolved while living in caves, and we may go back to caves when we live on the moon,” Page said in a press release from the University of California.
There are still plenty of other challenges to establishing any kind of long-term human habitation on the Moon – including growing food and providing enough oxygen. The researchers explained that NASA has no immediate plans to establish base camp or housing there.
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