The lunar pits have stable temperature as compared to others areas on the Moon.
Scientists have identified thermally stable locations in lunar pits that they think could one day act as shelters when more and more researchers reach the Moon to expedite efforts to colonise Earth's satellite. The pits have been discovered by a team of scientists funded by American space agency NASA. They used the data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft and computer modeling to arrive at a conclusion that the pits will be a good place to boost lunar research.
In an article on its website, NASA said that these "thermally stable sites" can act as base and used as shelters for future astronauts. The researchers found that the temperature in these pockets hover around 17 degrees Celsius compared to other areas on the lunar surface, which heat up to 127 degrees Celsius during the day and cool to minus 173 degrees Celsius at night.
These pits were first discovered on the Moon in 2009, said NASA and added that they would also offer some protection from cosmic rays, solar radiation and micrometeorites.
The new research about these pits has been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in which lead researcher Tyler Horvath said, "About 16 of the more than 200 pits are probably collapsed lava tubes."
Lava tubes, also found on Earth, form when molten lava flows beneath a field of cooled lava or a crust forms over a river of lava, leaving a long, hollow tunnel. If the ceiling of a solidified lava tube collapses, it opens a pit that can lead into the rest of the cave-like tube.
"Humans evolved living in caves, and to caves we might return when we live on the Moon," said David Paige, a co-author of the research paper.
NASA explained how the research was carried out. The team of scientists focused on a 100 metre deep depression about the length and width of a football field in an area of the Moon known as the Mare Tranquillitatis. Using computer modeling, the researchers analyzed the thermal properties of the rock and lunar dust and to chart the pit's temperatures over time.
The results showed that temperature within the permanently shadowed reaches of the pit fluctuate only slightly throughout the lunar day, remaining at around 17 degrees Celsius.
A day on the Moon lasts about 15 Earth days, during which the surface is constantly bombarded by sunlight and is frequently hot enough to boil water. Brutally cold nights also last about 15 Earth days.