There are lots of reasons people don’t live on the Moon: there’s no air, there’s no water. It’s a heck of a commute.
But scientists have discovered select spots on the lunar surface where one of the biggest impediments to human habitation—temperature— is more manageable.
A study from researchers at UCLA has identified pits in the lunar terrain that maintain a temperature of about 63 degrees: a little lower than you might keep your thermostat, but nothing a sweater couldn’t handle. Most of the surface of the Moon heats up to 260 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and drops to 280 degrees below zero at night.
The study published in July, 2022 focused on one particular pit about the size of a football field located in the Sea of Tranquility, the large, dark, basaltic plain where the Apollo 11 astronauts landed in 1969.
These pits were first discovered over a decade ago, and over 200 of them have now been found ranging from 16- to nearly 3,000-feet across. Several of the pits are probably collapsed lava tubes left over from when molten rock last flowed across the surface. Two of the pits have prominent overhangs that likely lead to caves or long hollow tunnels underground.
These permanently shaded areas are shielded from the drastic temperature fluctuations on the rest of the lunar surface. They could provide ideal spots for base camps or staging grounds for wider lunar exploration since producing enough energy to keep a structure cool during the two-week-long lunar day and warm during the two-week-long lunar night is one of the biggest impediments to long term habitation.