The moon Caves typical weather forecast can be quite unpleasant. It can have temperatures as low as 280 degrees below zero at night and highs of boiling during the day. New research suggests that moon pits, unique features found on the moon, may offer a refuge from the rollercoaster temperatures.
UCLA’s team used thermal imaging taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, to determine the temperature inside these pits. UCLA’s newsroom dubbed the findings “sweater weather” and published them in Geophysical Research Letters.
Tyler Horvath from UCLA’s planetary science Ph.D. program, one of the study authors, suggested that the pit could represent a passageway into a lava tube or cave. This would be ideal for astronauts as it provides perfect temperatures and radiation protection.
Visualize spending a day in the moon Caves. 15 days of extreme heat can reach temperatures well beyond the boiling points of water. Horvath stated that you also experience 15 days with a massive cold. These are some of the coolest temperatures on the planet. The ability to live in a place that doesn’t require you to heat your body during the night is very valuable. During the day, if solar power is your main source of energy, it won’t work for 15 days.
UCLA’s research team focuses on the Sea of Tranquillity/Mare Tranquillities region. It is 220 miles from Apollo 11’s landing spot and approximately equal distance to the Apollo 17 landing area.
NASA’s LRO satellite is constantly orbiting the moon Caves and taking measurements with its suite, including the Diviner Lunar Radiometer. It has been nonstop mapping lunar thermal emissions since 2009.
David Paige (UCLA Planetary Scientist) is the main investigator of the Diviner instrument.
Horvath was given the task to create a 3-D model of one of these pits in Mare Trenquillitatis. The team noticed one pixel of infrared imagery that was much warmer than many other places on the moon Caves during nighttime when temperatures drop.
Horvath explained, “We noticed it really quickly was able to heat up and maintain kind of a warmer climate than the surface usually does at nights.” “We were amazed that this could be so interesting. ‘”
After checking the Diviner data, and taking into consideration the amount of sunlight the pit receives during the day, the team established the pit’s temperature. Although it doesn’t support a cave opening this is still the working theory on these pits created by ancient volcanic activity.
Horvath noted that the cool result was that if there was a cave, temperatures would reach 63 F all day, every day. The temperature at which the Trenquillitatis cavern and other caverns of the moon Caves are maintained is determined by a physics concept called blackbody cavities. These cavities can self-regulate to retain their temperature.
Horvath clarifies that it is essentially a surface that emits radiation and absorbs radiation.
The temperature of the pit bottom also depends upon its location relative to the Earth and moon.
Horvath explained that temperatures would rise if they were closer to sunlight. “It’d be colder if the sun is farther away.”
What is the secret to the formation of lava tubes on a moon?
From Earth, the moon can be seen with its many interesting features. The spacecraft of Japan, Kaguya, orbiting around the moon discovered a new lunar feature in 2009. These deep chasms are thought to be made of collapsed lava tubes.
Horvath explains how millions of years back, intense volcanic activity and lava flow formed the dark splotches today when we look up to the moon Caves. The lava that was on the surface would first cool because it was exposed at first to the cold temperature of space.
Horvath indicated that in certain places the lava will completely leave, leaving behind a hollow tube or lava tube below the surface. “These pits could be our way to see that they exist. There’s a way in.
NASA refers to the pits as “skylights” that are formed when the roof of the volcanic tube collapses.
The lava tube that the UCLA study team visited at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was comparable in size to the Mare Trenquillitatis pit. Visitors can tour the other lava tubes in the park, in addition to the one shown above.
Researchers won’t know if there are vast caves unless they actually go to the moon Caves. NASA plans to send astronauts back to the moon within the next four years and establish a permanent base.