According to the new observations from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, there are over 200 lunar pits that could provide shelter to the future astronauts.
The pits range in size from about 5 meters across to more than 900 meters in diameter, and three of them were first identified using images from the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft. Hundreds more were found using a new computer algorithm that automatically scanned thousands of high-resolution images of the lunar surface from LRO’s Narrow Angle Camera (NAC).
Robert Wagner, Arizona State University, said that pits would be useful in a support role for human activity on the lunar surface as a habitat placed in a pit ideally several dozen meters back under an overhang would provide a very safe location for astronauts: no radiation, no micrometeorites, possibly very little dust, and no wild day-night temperature swings.
Most pits were found either in large craters with impact melt ponds, areas of lava that formed from the heat of the impact and later solidified, or in the lunar maria, dark areas on the moon that are extensive solidified lava flows hundreds of miles across.