Design for the Darkness

No, this is a picture. Really. Credit: JAXA/NHK

Designers of future Moon missions and bases have to contend with a chilling challenge: how might their creations endure the fortnight-long lunar night? ESA has arrived at a low-cost way of surviving.

During prolonged night, when the surface is lit only by blue Earthlight, temperatures dip below –170ºC. Some locations at higher latitudes have shorter nights, though others have much longer or even permanent darkness.

Numerous robotic missions have perished during this prolonged cold. Russia’s Lunokhod-2 rover, for instance, failed to make it through the night in May 1973, its radioactive heater having gradually run down after four months of exploring.

The Apollo manned missions stayed on the surface only a few days at a time, and all during the early lunar morning. But future lunar settlers will have to live in the night as well as the day, bearing in mind that vital solar energy and heat would be unavailable during the 14 days of darkness. … (ESA)

No, this is a picture. Really. Credit: JAXA/NHK

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