There are Warm Pits on the Moon, NASA has found.

According to computer simulations, shadowed areas within pits on the Moon’s surface can be kept at a temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit. The shaded pits, unlike the rest of the Moon’s surface, which may heat up to 260°F during the day and drop to -280°F at night, could be used as human settlements in the future. Topographical features that may have been formed by collapsed lava tubes have been studied by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) for more than a decade. Recently conducted study has found the thermal environment of the pits to be more habitable than any other place on the Moon, with average temperatures ranging about 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius).

Lunar pits are an intriguing characteristic on the lunar surface, according to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center LRO Project Scientist Noah Petro. Knowing that these unique lunar features and the prospect of one day accessing them are stable thermal environments helps us develop a picture.”

(Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

It’s possible to find lava tubes here on Earth, too. According to NASA, these lengthy, hollow tunnels are the result of lava flowing beneath a field of already-cooled lava or of the formation of a crust over an already-cooling lava river Lava tubes with hardened ceilings can collapse, resulting in the formation of a cave.

There is “good indication” that a third pit also has a big cave or overhang, NASA said, citing two of the most notable pits. It’s possible we’ll return to caverns on the Moon, says David Paige, the leader of the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

The team, which included Paige, Paul Hayne of the University of Colorado Boulder, and UCLA PhD student Tyler Horvath, concentrated on a 328-foot-deep depression in the Mare Tranquillitatis region of the Moon. They used computer modelling to examine the rock and lunar dust’s thermal characteristics and track changes in temperature over time.

a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters found that temperatures in the pit’s permanently shaded reaches fluctuate just minimally over the course of an entire lunar day (about 15 Earth days). It follows that any cave that is connected to the rest of the system should be able to maintain a reasonable temperature.

Professor David Paige of UCLA’s Department of Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder’s Paul Hayne, and UCLA’s Tyler Horvath used data from the LRO’s Diviner instrument, which has been monitoring lunar surface temperatures for over a decade. For their study, researchers concentrated on a cylindrical trench in the Mare Tranquillitatis region, which was the same area that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin visited in 1969.

The researchers used the data to run time-dependent 2-D and 3-D models in order to investigate the geometry and heat flow that could be responsible for the elevated temperatures.
In the end, experts found that not only did the pit have a steady temperature, but it was likely connected to a cave with a similar climate. Researchers suggested that the ceiling of a cave collapsed and created the pit and others like it, allowing the tunnel to retain this temperature throughout its length, with a temperature variation of less than 1°C over a full lunar day if a cave extends from this one.

According to the researchers, “pits may provide an ideal habitat for long-term settlement and exploration of the Moon: they are mostly free from the constant risks of damaging radiation, impacts, and severe temperatures.” According to this theory, “pit and cave base stations may be a valuable stepping stone for supporting human existence beyond Earth, giving more mission safety than other potential base station settings.”

Even better, scientists have discovered a slew of pits on the Moon’s nearside that could be used for Earth-to-Moon communications. To advance scientific understanding and increase human presence in space, NASA is teaming up with commercial and international partners to send astronauts back to the Moon. the first crewed lunar landing since Apollo 17 in 1972, the Artemis mission of NASA seeks to take humans to lunar south pole by 2025.

Researchers have long pondered if pits on the Moon could lead to caves that could be investigated or used as shelters, since they were originally identified in 2009. Cosmic radiation, solar radiation, and micrometeorites could also be shielded by the pits or caverns. About 16 of the over 200 holes are likely to be collapsing lava tubes,” Tyler Horvath, a University of California, Los Angeles PhD student in planetary science who led the new research, said in a press release.

LRO Project Scientist Noah Petro of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., described lunar pits as “a intriguing feature on the lunar surface.” A steady temperature environment permits us to build a more complete picture of these unique lunar features and their potential for exploration. Molten lava flows beneath the cooled lava or the crust forms over the river, creating long hollow tunnels. Lava tubes are also seen on Earth. It is possible to get into the rest of a cave-like tube if the ceiling of a solidified lava tube falls.

Several conspicuous pits have overhangs that plainly lead to caves or voids, and compelling evidence suggests that another overhang may lead to a big cave as well.
David Paige, a co-author of the research and the leader of the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment aboard LRO, noted that “humans evolved living in caves, and to caves we might return when we live on the Moon.”

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